The Metropolitan Museum houses a world-renowned complex of scientific research and conservation facilities, each of which serves as a training ground for conservators from around the world. There are five major conservation areas—Objects Conservation, Paintings Conservation, Paper Conservation, Photograph Conservation, and Textile Conservation—the first four of which are supported by and named for the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. In addition, the Museum maintains specialized studios for Asian art, costume, and book conservation.
The Department of Scientific Research, a core group of scientists who collaborate with curators and conservators throughout the Museum, is responsible for investigating the material aspects of works of art in The Met collection. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying, preserving, and conserving works, and also pursue innovative research in analytic techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies.
In March 2017 The Met partnered with Cultural Heritage Imaging to host a two-day symposium focused on Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and related imaging techniques.
The Metropolitan's Adoration of the Magi (71.100) was painted in the southern Netherlands, probably in Antwerp, at the end of the fifteenth century, but little else is known regarding the circumstances of its creation. A recent conservation treatment provided the opportunity to examine the painting and to investigate the stages of its production.
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.
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.
Objects conservators recently applied two approaches for restoring losses to a stained-glass window.
The Metropolitan's collection of Chinese religious sculpture is the largest outside of Asia. The availability of new scholarly information, analytical techniques, and recent archaeology in China prompted the Museum to take an in-depth study of the collection.
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.
Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise (1947) came to the studio to be examined and treated in preparation for an exhibition; a non-original varnish that had discolored over time and imparted a yellow cast as well as an overly saturated and glossy appearance was removed.