The Department of Scientific Research is responsible for investigating the material aspects of works of art in the Museum's collection. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying, preserving, and conserving works, and also pursue innovative research in analytical techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies.
Antibody-based techniques are applied in the field of conservation science to identify and localize the various kinds of proteins used in objects of cultural heritage, revealing insights into materials and techniques used by artists and craftspeople.
The enamel compositions from a group of well-dated enameled gold jewelry were chemically analyzed to help distinguish between authentic Renaissance period pieces and later pieces done in Renaissance style.
Lead and other heavy metal soaps have been detected and reported to be the cause of deterioration in hundreds of oil paintings dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Understanding the nature of the chemical processes gives art conservators information on ways to slow, stop, and prevent the deterioration of unique works of art.
The dye used in a Latin American Colonial textile from the sixteenth to seventeenth century is examined in order to determine the textile's origin.
A comprehensive quantitative petrographic database of sandstones used by the Khmers for sculptural purposes would be a helpful tool for archaeologists, museum curators, and others interested in pursuing research on early stone usage, geologic source, and provenance of Southeast Asian stone materials. Toward this end, Khmer sculptures from the Museum's collections have been analyzed and field surveys planned to map and characterize the quarries exploited during the Khmer Empire.