Academic Laboratory of Material Research of Painted Artworks (ALMA)
|Department head: Hradil David, Mgr. Ph.D.
AreaAcademic Materials Research Laboratory of Painted Artworks (ALMA) is a joint workplace of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (AFA Prague) established by the Contract of Association in 2004. ALMA is a scientific laboratory working in the field of cultural heritage. Combining the branches of the natural sciences, art and the history of art, it pursues deepening the knowledge of painting materials and techniques. The gained knowledge is integrated to a complete evaluation of painted art works with respect to their origin, age, and authenticity. ALMA Laboratory develops instrumental materials analysis methods and interprets the results in the context of art history and history of materials technology.
The research activities of the laboratory are divided into three areas:
Methodological research focuses on the development and innovation of analytical procedures with the aim of (i) reducing invasive interventions in the work of art (testing of non-invasive analytical methods, adapting laboratory methods for measuring smaller objects, etc.) and (ii) finding new ways of describing materials in a microscale and gain new information on their origin or processes of their changes (e.g. structural and mineralogical analysis by X-ray powder microdiffraction).
Research of historical materials deals with issues of origin and regional provenance of painting pigments, locations of their mining and various ways of their historical production. A separate topic is represented by the investigation of the degradation processes caused by various interactions of materials in the painting layer and/or influenced by external factors (temperature, humidity, light, salts, etc.).
Interdisciplinary research is practice-oriented and, in close cooperation with other disciplines, solves questions related to each individual artwork within the case studies. In the scope of interdisciplinary research new scientific findings are applied to the practice and at the same time the laboratory receives feedback from the fields of practical conservation/restoration, art-historical evaluation or monument protection and formulates new questions, which are important to answer
Advanced non-invasive and micro-analytical techniques and approaches in cultural heritage studies (D. Hradil)
Materials in historical paintings, their provenance and causes of degradation (D. Hradil, S. Švarcová)
Within the program of applied research NAKI (Ministry of Culture), the laboratory focuses on creating certified methodologies and protection/restoration practices, and also participates in organizing educational exhibitions.
FacilitiesALMA in the Institute
Portable spectroscopic instruments for the in-situ analysis of paintings: FT-IR spectrometer ALPHA (Bruker) and Raman spectrometer i-Raman PRO with manual microscope (B&W Tek)
Two powder X-ray difractometers PANalytical X’Pert for the phase analysis and structural characterization of pigments in reflection and transmission arrangements, and in micro-diffraction measuring mode (micro-pXRD)
FT-IR microscope HYPERION 3000 (Bruker) equipped with high performance ATR objective, MCT detector and FPA detector for fast chemical imaging; microscope is coupled with VERTEX 70 spectrometer, which enable a conventional analysis of solid and liquid samples
ALMA at the Academy of Fine Ars:
Advanced optical microscopes and other non-invasive methods - mobile XRF and UV / Vis spectrometry as well as advanced imaging and scanning techniques - high-resolution radiography, infrared reflectography and large-area MA-XRF scanner are used at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague