Laser technology for Imaging, Structural Diagnosis, Compositional Analysis and Cleaning of Cultural Heritage objects and monuments
IESL – FORTH is among the leading centers worldwide for research and development of innovative laser and optical technologies for the diagnostics and conservation of works of arts and antiquities. Emphasis is placed on laser ablation methodologies for cleaning and restoration, laser spectroscopy for compositional analysis, multispectral imaging and holographic metrology techniques for structural diagnosis.
Numerous collaborations exist between IESL-FORTH and museums or other organizations, focusing on the use of laser and optical technologies for addressing a broad spectrum of challenges in art conservation and archaeology. These collaborations have had significant technological output, for example, mobile LIBS instruments for the analysis of works of art and archaeological samples, laser cleaning systems, currently in use on the Parthenon sculptures, mobile laser interferometry instruments for structural characterization of artworks and monuments and versatile imaging systems for mapping and discrimination of materials.
Numerous collaborations exist between IESL-FORTH and museums or other organizations, focusing on the use of laser and optical technologies for addressing a broad spectrum of challenges in art conservation and archaeology. Highlights among these are:
- The laser-assisted removal of pollution accumulations from the Athens Acropolis Sculptures in collaboration with the Acropolis Restoration Service, the Acropolis Museum and the 1st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. The first assemblage from the Acropolis to benefit from the laser cleaning methodology was the West Frieze of the Parthenon (2002-2005). Since then, the technique has been used for the cleaning of the sculptures from the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike (2006-2009) and the roof of the Caryatids’ porch in the Erechtheion (2008-2012). An advanced laser laboratory has been recently (02/2011) set up on the visitors’ floor where the Caryatids are exhibited at the Acropolis Museum and laser-assisted removal of pollution accumulations from their surface takes place in this laboratory. This arrangement brings the visitors of the Acropolis Museum in contact with the conservation interventions that until now took place only inside restricted access laboratory environments. This exhibits a symbolic connection between ancient and modern Greece, which is open to public.
- The laser cleaning of excavation insoluble and hard crusts from Hermes of Ancient Messene in Peloponnese (2001) and the removal of soil dust from the fragile surface of a series of plaster tracery 14th and 15th-century windows of the Benaki Museum Islamic collection (2003) in collaboration with Lithou Sintirissis- Conservation Associates.
- The removal of surface deposits from the sculptures of Aiani Archaeological Museum in a collaborative effort with the Archaeological Museum of Aiani and the 30th Ephorate of Prehistoric & Classical Antiquities (2008-2009).
- The removal of acrylic over-paintings from a 20th-century modern oil painting, the “Black Painting” by Ad Reinhardt, in collaboration with Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern and Art Innovation. This project involved the development of a synergistic approach that combines laser ablation cleaning with spectroscopic control.
- The development of a transportable LIBS instrument (LMntI) for the research needs of INSTAP-SCEC (2000-2004), currently located at the conservation laboratories of INSTAP-SCEC in Eastern Crete (Pahia Ammos)