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NANOmaterials for the REStoration of works of ART

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NANORESTART (NANOmaterials for the REStoration of works of ART)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-11-30

Modern and contemporary works of art are particularly prone to degradation, and conventional restoration tools lack effectiveness and safety. To overcome this issue, NANORESTART developed nanomaterials to ensure long-term protection and security of modern/contemporary cultural heritage, taking into account environmental and human risks, feasibility and materials costs. The new tools and materials developed represent a breakthrough in cultural heritage and conservation science and focus on: (i) tools for controlled cleaning, such as highly-retentive gels for the confinement of enzymes and nanostructured fluids based on green surfactants; (ii) the strengthening and protection of surfaces by using nanocontainers, nanoparticles and supramolecular systems/assemblies; (iii) nanostructured substrates and sensors for enhanced molecules detection; (iv) evaluation of the environmental impact and the development of security measures for long lasting conservation of cultural heritage. Within the project the industrial scalability of the developed materials has been demonstrated.
NANORESTART gathers centers of excellence in the field of synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials, world leading chemical Industries and SMEs operating in R&D, and International and European centers for conservation, education and museums. Such centers assessed the new materials on modern/contemporary artifacts in urgent need of conservation, and disseminated the knowledge and the new nanomaterials among conservators on a worldwide perspective.
The overall objectives were: Objective 1: Development of new tools and materials for conservation; Objective 2: Evaluation of the environmental impact of the new technologies; Objective 3: Exploitation of the new technologies.
In conclusion, the project developed more than 90 systems for the cleaning, strengthening, protection and detection of works of art materials. The new solutions, based on green chemistry, have been used to restore masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Eva Hesse, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Jean Dubuffet, and others. The systems developed in NANORESTART overcome conventional products in terms of effectiveness, feasibility, and long-term stability. Extensive dissemination and training on the new products were carried out, both in the EU and worldwide, and some of the project products are already available on the market.
Work Packages (WP) 2-5 dealt with the development of new tools and solutions.
WP2 developed 12 nanostructured fluids (with cleavable and degradable surfactants); 20 hydrogels and 12 organogels for cleaning water- and solvent-sensitive surfaces. These systems were used to clean masterpieces by Picasso, Pollock, Lichtenstein, and others.
WP3 produced 25 dispersions of nanoparticles, polyelectrolytes, and cellulose fibers/crystals in water or ethanol, and 3 dispersions in apolar solvents, for the strengthening and deacidification of canvases. These systems have been assessed on canvases from the 19th and 20th century.
WP4 developed 8 protective coatings, both active (releasing corrosion inhibitors), passive (gas barrier), and multilayer (active+passive) for the preservation of metal artifacts and rapid prototyping materials. On metals, the coatings protect the substrate from corrosion. On plastics, the potential of the coatings against UV radiation, heat, oxygen, and water, was explored.
WP 5 developed: 4 nanoinks and nanopastes for the SERS detection of dyes (challenging with conventional tools); 3 SERS substrates, including elastomers, hydrogels, and glass: these allow non-invasive sampling of artworks; 3 VOCs electrochemical sensors for detection of formaldehyde, ketones, and phenols, i.e. indoor pollutants and degradation markers. These systems have been used to analyze drawings by Federico Fellini, and plastic sculptures.
WP6 completed the Environmental impact assessment (CLP self-classification, ecotoxicological and colloidal characterization, leaching testing and safety assessment of the new formulations), and developed the WoE sustainability assessment methodology, a guideline protocol for the assessment of innovative conservation products.
WP7 tackled the exploitation of the project results: SWOT Analysis; scale up of production; selection of Key Product Demonstrators (KPDs), and Business Plan; a workshop with the End users and the Technology Transfer Board; Final Exploitation Plan.
WP8 has carried out intense dissemination (workshops, seminars, publications, project site, contacts network): 34 dissemination actions in year 1, 133 in year 2, and 272 in year 3; 71 peer-reviewed, scientific publications produced by the Consortium members.
The cluster ECHOES has been created ( gathering the major projects in cultural heritage preservation.
A wide set of new products has been assessed with unprecedented results on numerous case studies. The main advancements beyond the state of the art are: 1) Nanostructured cleaning fluids exhibit a decreased impact on the artifact, the environment, and the operator, as opposed to traditional solvent blends. 2) The new gels are significant upgrades on traditional thickeners as they allow safe and feasible removal of dirt/unwanted layers, and the time needed is reduced by orders of magnitude than conventional tools (swabs, thickeners, solvent blends). 3) The new consolidants are fully compatible with cellulosic substrates, as opposed to traditional adhesives that can release compounds harmful to cellulose. 4) The new smart protective coatings are more effective and compatible to bronze and plastic than traditional products. 5) The diagnostic tools (SERS, sensors for VOCs detection) exhibit enhanced detection limits and more specificity/sensitivity than traditional detection techniques.
The socio-economic impact of the project is easily understood considering the huge number of items potentially needing restoration (e.g. 150,000 objects at the MOMA, 100,000 at Centre G. Pompidou): this requires affordable solutions in terms of costs and time. The NANORESTART products are easily applied in a relatively short time, decreasing the intervention cost. The long-term efficacy of the treatments dramatically decreases the costs of ordinary maintenance and increases the fruitfulness of collections, with higher socio-economic profit: tourism indirectly generates more than 10% of the European Union's GDP and provides about 12% of the labor force (EUbusiness 2013). The market for conservation of this heritage is estimated at ca. €5 billion per year, the market for art was about 90 billion euro in 2016, supporting 2.8 million jobs.
The project has also a wider societal impact: safe, and effective restoration tools enhance the accessibility of artifacts, which can be enjoyed by citizens in shared environments (museums, collections, schools, etc.). The result is the enhancement of social inclusion, a crucial aspect in societal improvement. Thousands of museums and historical organizations worldwide maintain important collections representing a gigantic cultural diversity. NANORESTART project designed and developed long-term remedial conservation and restoration materials and methodologies, which allow preventing, stopping, and slowing down the degradation of such collections.
Removal of soil from the surface of a modern painting using the project's hydrogels