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ACS South Jersey Local Section Meeting 

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November 2013 Dinner Meeting

November 19, 2013

Conservation Science: The Forensics of Cultural Material

Chris Petersen

Winterthur Museum / University of Delaware

Olive Garden (Deptford)
1500 Almonesson Rd
Deptford, NJ 08096

5:30-6:30 P.M. Social Hour
6:30-7:45 P.M. Dinner
7:45 P.M. Seminar

$20 for members & guests
$10 for students


Abstract:  Conservation science combines a variety of scientific disciplines in the study of cultural material. Museum scientists, typically chemists, work with conservators and curators to understand the materials chemistry of artifacts in order to aid their treatment and understanding. Scientists analyze artifacts to characterize materials and manufacturing techniques of various regions, time periods and artists, to aid in authenticity studies, to characterize previous repairs, alterations, or additions, and to evaluate new treatment materials and procedures. The Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory (SRAL) at Winterthur Museum was founded in 1969 by retired Du Pont physicist Dr. Victor Hanson, who was the first scientist to apply x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) to the analysis of museum objects. Today there are approximately 15 museums in the United States with science laboratories, and around 75 scientists working in the field. Winterthur’s SRAL uses a range of analytical techniques in the study of cultural material including Raman spectroscopy, XRF microspectroscopy, Fourier-transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), Liquid Chromatography (LC-MS) and scanning electron microscopy with x-ray microanalysis (SEM-EDS). Cases studies will be presented which demonstrate the use of these techniques for the study of objects from the Winterthur Museum as well as other institutions and collectors. As is increasingly the case, material culture scholarship and the conservation of artifacts are built on a scientific understanding of their components and degradation mechanisms.


Speaker Biography: W. Chris Petersen, adjunct associate professor in the Winterthur Museum / University of Delaware joint Program in Art Conservation, received a B.A. degree in chemistry from DePauw University and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He retired from the DuPont Company after 30 years of primarily synthetic organic chemistry research. Currently he is in the Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory (SRAL) at the Winterthur Museum and for the past 13 years has specialized in the analysis of organic materials in works or art using GC-MS. His activities include teaching and mentoring our undergraduate and graduate students and assisting our faculty with research projects

The November meeting will be held at Olive Garden in Deptford.

The restaurant is located at 1500 Almonesson Rd  Deptford, NJ 08096

Please call the restaurant at (856) 227-5522 for directions if needed. You can also check their web site at

Dinner selections: 1) Spaghetti & Meatballs, 2) Lasagna Classic, 3) Eggplant Parmigiana (Vegetarian), 4) Fettucine Alfredo & 5) Ravioli di Portobello.

Please email your reservation by Friday, November 15. Be sure to indicate your dinner choice!

RSVP to Doug Taylor (

New Jersey Department of Education Professional Development Provider number = 2538



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