Final Project Proposal: Chemistry and Art Conservation

My parents have always been an “art couple”; they went to Europe on their honeymoon and spent their dates walking through old museums, admiring sculptures and architecture, and fostering an appreciation of art within me from a young age (even when I would have rather gone to a playground than a stuffy art museum when I was a little kid). My mother and grandmother were also painters in their youth, and my house is full of original paintings and portraits completed by them. Therefore, visual arts has always been a large part of my life, even when performance art also began to play a larger role in my extracurricular activities. When I was in high school, I took a class in Art History and one unit mentioned how chemistry (especially techniques such as spectrophotometry, microscopy, and chromatography) was utilized in order to restore and analyze the quality of certain works of art, especially those that were curated for museums.

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Art conservation is a very interdisciplinary subject, and researching in-depth into the process for restoring artifacts, developing polymers for 3D printing, and ascertaining the toxicity of certain art mediums, are all very interesting avenues to explore for a final project. Materials science is an additional subject to look into, with scientists’ research into pigments, dyes, paints, and the development of resins, alloys, and composites for sculpture and jewelry-making.

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With my theater minor, I am also very intrigued by stage design and the chemistry involved in behind-the-scenes tech or special effects makeup in film. Overall, there is a wide intersection between art and chemistry in terms of art conservation, and I think delving into that would yield a lot of interesting and necessary conclusions.


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