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Biological patinA for arcHaeological and Artistic Metal ArtefactS


The nature of the corrosion products present on the surface of artistic and archaeological metal artefacts is intrinsically related to the environmental context (atmospheric or burial). In order to effectively protect and inhibit the corrosion of such metal objects, the practices adopted should take into account the nature of the patina and its corrosion behaviour. However, the treatments so far employed are organic protective coatings, which do not consider the difference in terms of patina composition and corrosion products stability and simply create a barrier against aggressive environments in a non-selective way. A multidisciplinary project BAHAMAS is here proposed for developing an alternative biological treatment as a novel approach for the conservation-restoration of metal artefacts. The research activity aims at chemically and specifically modifying existing corrosion products into more stable and less soluble compounds while maintaining the surface’s physical appearance. Some species of fungi have been already reported for their ability to transform metal compounds into metal oxalates, which are known to be insoluble and high protective compounds towards corrosion. Thus, the participants will exploit this potential for the transformation of existing corrosion patinas into metal oxalates. Some promising results have been obtained after a first attempt on bronze standards with copper hydroxysulphates and copper hydroxychlorides patinas. The research work will investigate the formation mechanisms and adhesion properties of the newly formed metal oxalates on different metal substrates (copper, iron and silver), which are frequently found in cultural heritage artworks. The collaboration between the Swiss National Museums, the University of Neuchâtel and the researcher will allow the creation of a unique interdisciplinary team and will represent a key aspect for the accomplishment of this innovative research issue in the field of conservation science.

Fields of science

Call for proposal

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Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum
Museumstrasse 2
8021 Zurich
Activity type
Public bodies (excluding Research Organisations and Secondary or Higher Education Establishments)
EU contribution
€ 172 565,20
Administrative Contact
Marie Wörle (Dr.)