The Secret Life of Art: A Forensic Exploration of Art and Cultural Objects

Johanna Bernstein (Assistant Dean for International Programs, Chemistry and Chemical Biology)

What is that sculpture made of? How does an artist choose which materials to use? How long will these materials last? How can you tell if something is a fake? We will answer these questions by looking at art and cultural objects from the point of view of an artist or craftsman, a scientist, an art conservator, and a historian. Using a series of case studies from museums and cultural institutions around the world, this seminar will show how technological advances have influenced the creation of art and our ability to examine them. Topics will include forensic analysis and the degradation of materials, technical art history, and analytical sciences applied to the preservation and conservation of historic objects.