Art Forensics: Forgeries, Deception, and Conservation

daVinci Art Science Roundtable: Art Forensics Part 1

Conservation Science:

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.