Art Forensics: Forgeries, Deception, and Conservation
Behind the scenes at several of
the nation’s top art museums,
scientists work to characterize,
protect, and understand priceless
pieces of our cultural heritage.
Although few in number and largely
located on the two coasts, this elite
group of scientifi c facilities welcomed
its latest addition, the Indianapolis
Museum of Art (IMA), from
the nation’s heartland. The IMA
is one of the 10 oldest and largest
encyclopedic museums in America,
with over 56,000 works in its collection.
This state-of-the-art laboratory
now provides the conservation and
curatorial staff a powerful new tool
in their respective tasks of protecting
and interpreting this impressive
collection of artwork.
Dr. Gregory Dale Smith, the Otto
N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation
Scientist, was hired in 2010 to lead
this new science initiative, a program
sponsored by the Lilly Endowment,
Inc., a major philanthropic organization
in Indianapolis. Aside from
prioritizing the investigation of the
museum’s collection, Smith’s fi rst
responsibility was designing, constructing,
and outfi tting the lab from
the ground up.