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The Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts

Advancing the role of science in art

About the Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts

Housed within McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts is a collaborative endeavor that pursues objects-based and objects-inspired scientific research to advance the role of science within art history, curatorial scholarship, archaeology, and conservation. The goals of the program are to enrich the breadth, scope, and reach of scientific studies in the arts and in the wider field of conservation in the United States and abroad, by leveraging resources at the Art Institute of Chicago and materials-related departments at Northwestern University. This research and education initiative also provides enhanced training opportunities for participants through involvement in university-museum multidisciplinary programs.


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Projects

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Start a research project in collaboration with Northwestern University faculty and Art Institute of Chicago staff.

The Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts is housed within the McCormick School of Engineering.


Featured Projects

View our projects which strike a balance between object-based (for example the study of a specific work of art, or groups of objects) and objected-inspired work (for example the development of new investigation methods or testing of a new conservation treatment).

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Uncovering Hidden Details in Picasso's La Miséreuse Accroupie

Researchers used multiple modes of light to uncover details hidden beneath the visible surface of Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period painting.
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Discovering the Birthplace of a Picasso Bronze

Scientists use non-invasive techniques to trace five sculptures to foundry in WWII Paris
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Tebtunis Mummy Portraits

A collaboration between Northwestern scientists and Argonne National Laboratory provides insights into an 1,800-year-old mummy and learning about the material microhistory of the painting tradition
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Surface-Shape Studies of Gauguin's Monoprints, Prints, and Drawings

Researchers used computational imaging to evaluate the surface structure of Gauguin’s graphic production with the aim of better understanding his printmaking and transfer processes
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Field Notes & Events

Field Notes

Summer 2019 Speaker Series: Matthias Alfeld from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands on August 14th | "Evaluating Spectroscopic Imaging Data of Cultural Heritage Objects Acquired on the Macroscopic Scale"

The Center welcomes speaker Matthias Alfeld from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands on August 14th to give a talk on "Evaluating Spectroscopic Imaging Data of Cultural Heritage Objects Acquired on the Macroscopic Scale. " He will discuss how macroscopic and microscopic scale investigations of cultural heritage objects, and the novel approaches to exploit local information beyond the isolated pixel level, can obtain more meaningful representations and discuss their practicality.

Summer 2019 Speaker Series: Marcello Picollo, National Research Council of Italy (IFAC-CNR) | Friday, June 21st | "Imaging Spectroscopy: 25 years of experience at IFAC-CNR"

The Center welcomes Dr. Marcello Picollo, researcher at the Institute of Applied Physics “Nello Carrara” of the National Research Council of Italy, Florence, presenting his talk on "Imaging Spectroscopy: 25 years of experience at IFAC-CNR." This talk will discuss studies and research projects at IFAC-CNR that customize imaging spectroscopic instrumentation and methodologies to the specific needs of art conservation and applications in the museum context.

Spring 2019 Speaker Series: Patrick Degryse from the Catholic University of Leuven on April 10th | "The Origins of Antimony as a Raw Material in Metal and Vitreous Materials Making: Yellow Glass and Gold from the Bronze Age to the Romans"

The Center welcomes speaker Patrick Degryse from the Catholic University of Leuven on April 10th to present his talk on "The Origins of Antimony as a Raw Material in Metal and Vitreous Materials Making: Yellow Glass and Gold from the Bronze Age to the Romans." He will discuss how the origins of man-made materials, and determining the provenance of the minerals used in making them, are crucial to the study of ancient societies, and the primary origin of the Sb raw materials used in several technological processes such as glass making and metal alloying.

Winter 2019 Speaker Series: Dr. P.D. (Piet) Iedema, University of Amsterdam | Friday, March 8th | "Polymer Modeling for Art and Industry."

The Center welcomes Dr. P.D. (Piet) Iedema on Friday, March 8th for his talk, "Polymer Modeling for Art and Industry." Join us for a lecture and discussion on a multi-physics approach to mathematical modeling of polymer network based paints, as applied to photocuring acrylates (e.g., used in 3D printing [art] objects) and linseed oil-based binding medium in oil paintings.

Events

MSE Fall Colloquia: Lois Pollack

October 22
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

MSE Fall Colloquia Dorn Lecture: Nicola Spaldin

October 29
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

MSE Fall Colloquia Dow Lecture: Andrea Liu

November 5
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

MSE Fall Colloquia: Eric Toberer

November 12
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

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