The new V&A Conservation Science Lab

Conservation Science
March 17, 2022
V&A Scientists Valentina Risdonne and Lucia Noor Melita with the lab’s new Hitachi TM4000 SEM-EDX

Welcome to the newly refurbished V&A Conservation Science Lab: thanks to a very generous £2.3M Capability for Collections (CapCo) grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), we were able to replace much of our ageing or obsolete equipment, revamp the lab space to make it more flexible and user-friendly and improve the way we study the V&A collections.

Our new Apollo infrared camera in action (left) and detail of the infrared reflectography of a new acquisition (right)

Our new state-of-the-art equipment includes a micro-XRF, a hand-held XRF, a scanning XRF, a polarised light microscope, three digital microscopes, new lasers for our old Raman, an infrared camera, a UV-vis-nIR spectrometer with macro-fader, a tabletop SEM-EDX, a microfadeometer, an IR-thermal camera, an environmental chamber, a more powerful X-radiography tube with a computed radiography system, and much more (watch out for more posts on these).

Scanning electron microscopy image and energy dispersive map from a Donatello stucco, taken using our new Hitachi TM4000 SEM-EDX equipment

This opens up additional research opportunities for our collections, both with traditional materials and also more modern materials, which are becoming increasingly important as our collections continue to develop.

We are already working on a number of new research projects, continue to study and care for our objects and collaborate with colleagues who are visiting us from all over the world to investigate our collections.

Detail of the portrait of Francis Williams, P.83-1928 (left), elemental maps of lead (centre) and calcium (right), highlighting areas of damage and subsequent repair. The maps were taken using our new M6 Jetstream

We are also hosting research students who are working with us to expand their horizons and get first-hand experience with real heritage science issues.

With KCL Forensic Science intern Ria Chittaranjan Sarkar, working with our new Zeiss AxioImager

Our approach is collaborative and we are currently setting up new programmes to create research opportunities for the wider sector, supporting the UK’s national heritage science infrastructure, and building partnerships with our international counterparts. Our team of scientists now includes our two new permanent staff, Dr Lucia Noor Melita (Conservation Scientist, Modern Materials) and Dr Valentina Risdonne (Laboratory Coordinator).

About the author

Conservation Science
March 17, 2022

Dr Lucia Burgio is Lead Scientist at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She has been at the V&A since 2000 and now manages the Science laboratory, guiding the scientific...

More from Lucia Burgio
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