The Material Science of Art Conservation

Joseph Priestley Society
Thursday, October 10, 2019
5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

The Joseph Priestley Society welcomes Rosie Grayburn, associate scientist, conservation, Winterthur Museum.

How does science aid in the preservation and understanding of our cultural artifacts? From the use of state-of-the-art, nondestructive analytical instruments to understand artistic materials to the development of novel conservation treatments, science plays a major role in the interdisciplinary study and care of collections. This is the interface of art and science.

In this lecture Grayburn will discuss the role of materials science in furthering the understanding of the materials and methods used in the creation, interpretation, and conservation of works of art. Examples will include a wide range of objects found in Winterthur Museum’s collection—from dripping mercury mirrors to paintings by early American artists.


Event Schedule

  • 5:00 p.m.
    Networking Reception
  • 6:00 p.m.

About the Speaker

Rosie Grayburn

Rosie Grayburn

Rosie Grayburn.

Rosie Grayburn is an associate scientist in the conservation department at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, where she carries out materials and treatment research focused on the decorative arts. Her current research interests include mercury amalgam mirrors and the conservation and identification of silver-plated ware. She is also an affiliated associate professor in the Winterthur/University of Delaware graduate program in art conservation, where she teaches science to future conservation professionals.

Grayburn is an enthusiastic teacher. She has held teaching fellowships at the Department of Art History, University College London, and the Department of Physics, Warwick University, and enjoys communicating to a wide range of audiences about applying science to the decorative arts.

In 2010 Grayburn received an MSci in chemistry from Imperial College London and in 2015 a joint PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Ghent and Warwick University. During her doctoral research she studied the deterioration and conservation of cultural heritage metals: lead, bronze, and silver. From 2015 to 2017 she held a postdoctoral fellowship in conservation science at the Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, conducting scientific and archival research into outdoor bronze sculpture conservation, in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum.

About the Series

The Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) promotes a deeper understanding of science, technology, and industry, with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Speakers are leaders from a wide variety of large and small chemical companies and the financial, consulting, and academic communities.

For more information about this event, please contact