Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

IAEA Technical Meeting

Developing Strategies for Safe Analysis of Paintings and Paint Materials

27June2017 30June2017 09:00


This technical meeting is co-organized by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), the Rijksmuseum and IPANEMA. The Rijksmuseum and RCE are founding members of the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS), that aims to bring about a new and lasting framework for tackling cultural heritage research questions integrating the disciplines of art history, conservation and science.


Please find below the final programme for the Technical Meeting. Please note that the programme may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.


Paintings are an important part of our world cultural heritage. Analytical techniques using intense photon, electron and ion beams produced by particle accelerators, synchrotrons, microscopes and other sources are increasingly being applied for their study. Whole paintings are scanned using X-ray methods at synchrotrons and in laboratory environments. Electron, Raman, X-ray and ion beam microscopies are widely applied to study both lateral and cross sections of paint samples to learn more about their complex composition, to construct painting biographies and to inform on degradation mechanisms.

Analytical investigations are based on photon, electron and ion interactions with the material. Such material under irradiation, visible or non-visible, might induce visible or non-visible alterations during analysis which can be also permanent or temporary. The effects of irradiation depend both on the investigated materials and the experimental conditions. All these need to be taken into account as e.g. changes of local colour, structural, chemical, morphological can influence the analytical results.

The consequences of the analyses in terms of radiation effects are insufficiently known. Radiation effects have been investigated for a long time in materials from life sciences to semiconductors. However, the main focus of such studies has been on pure materials and not on heterogeneous, complex and multi-layered systems like paintings. Several recent works have shown that interactions between pigments and binding media are likely to influence significantly material behaviour under irradiation. More specific, “pure” pigments are already complex mixtures containing traces phases, substitution elements and structural defects, which behaviour will deviate from standard chemicals. Therefore, to understand the radiation effects on paintings has outmost importance in order to minimize any possible alteration.


The purpose of this Technical Meeting is to bring material scientists, conservators, curators and conservation scientists, radiation specialists, physicists, chemists and accelerator scientists together with the following objectives:

  • Discuss the possible effects of ionizing radiation on paintings and paint materials during photon, electron and ion beam analysis, in view of artwork conservation, diagnostics, technical art history, and restoration;
  • Suggest safer procedures and improved practices for monitoring and mitigation strategies, with the aim of minimizing damage formation;
  • Define best practices to document the history of irradiation of samples and objects;
  • Explore the potential of future international collaborations, including for example ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, ICOM-CC, UNESCO, IPERION CH, E-RIHS (European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science), JPI on Cultural Heritage and global change, and ICTP;
  • Design the project of a round robin on survey of radiation effects on paint materials to be proposed to the IAEA.

The Meeting will aim at fostering exchanges between heritage researchers and professionals (curators, conservators and stakeholders), and preparing recommendations to the IAEA and its Member States. In particular, these recommendations are expected to include an important component regarding the raising of awareness to the Conservation science community.


The following topics will be covered:

  • Irradiation effects during the analysis of easel and panel paintings, as well as dyed textiles;
  • Dose calculation tools for the irradiation of irregular and heterogeneous materials;
  • Irradiation effects and their mechanism
  • Current practices in radiation analysis of heritage items
  • Monitoring radiation-induced modifications: real-time and long-term

The following material systems will be considered for the above-mentioned topics:

  • “Pure” organic compounds: binders, varnishes, organic pigments, dyestuff, etc.
  • “Pure” inorganic compounds: inorganic pigments and fillers
  • Heterogeneous / real systems: pigments mixed in medium, paint systems, alteration products, multi-layers, canvas and wooden support.

In addition, the below topics will be discussed in the form of working groups:

  • Identify model samples and opportunities for a Round robin exercise to compare analytical results on damage formation from various techniques;
  • Outline a Damage Prevention Wizard (flow diagrams and atlas) and an Irradiation History Passport for heritage objects which are analysed.

The outcomes of the meeting should help the curator, conservator and conservation scientist communities to assess if an analytical technique could be successfully used in the investigation of a painting or paint materials. Furthermore, tools to simulate the irradiated objects to make sure that every part is exposed to the same dose, will also be presented; especially for such challenging cases as irregular and heterogeneous materials. A comprehensive picture to curators and conservators will be drawn from the points of the benefits and risks of the analysis. The planned Round Robin exercise will help to develop standardised procedures in order to minimise the damage.


The Technical Meeting co-chairs are:

  • Ms. Aliz Simon (IAEA)
  • Ms. Ineke Joosten (RCE)
  • Ms. Katrien Keune (Rijksmuseum)
  • Mr. Loïc Bertrand (IPANEMA)


The International Advisory Committee consists of:

  • Ms. Hilde de Clercq (ICCROM)
  • Mr. Demetrios Anglos (E-RIHS)
  • Ms. Marika Spring (National Gallery of London, UK)
  • Mr. Sunil Sabharwal (IAEA)

More information

More information, including contact details of the organizing committee, can be found on the IAEA website (please click the button below). If you want to contact the local organisers, please send an email to:


Approximately 60 people from IAEA Member States and international organizations are expected to attend. Participants should be persons actively involved in the topics of the meeting. Both material scientists, conservators, curators and conservation scientists, radiation specialists, physicists, chemists and accelerator scientists are welcome to attend to the meeting.

Registration is now closed.


Abstract format

A one page abstract must be submitted by 20 April together with the nomination. The abstract may be text only or contain figures and graphics, but must only be one page. The abstract must contain the authors’ names, affiliation and email addresses. Acceptable file format is Microsoft Word. The filename should be in the following format: "lastname.firstname.filetype".

Please do not forget to indicate at the end of the abstract which topic you are contributing to.

The abstract shall be prepared according to the following instructions:

  1. Page size: A4 (297mm by 210 mm) – vertical orientation
  2. Margins 25mm all around
  3. Layout: 
  • Title: single-spaced, 14-point size, Times New Roman Font, bold
  • Authors: single-spaced, 12-point size, Times New Roman Font
  • Affiliation: single-spaced, 12-point size, Times New Roman Font, italic
  • Text: 1.5 spaced, 12-point size, Times New Roman Font
  • Length: one page

Authors must make sure that the files do not include copyrighted fonts or any other impediments for reproduction. The abstracts will be reviewed and selected by the International Programme Advisory Committee. Authors will be informed of the acceptance of their contributions via email by 28 April 2017.

Expenditures and financial support

No registration fee will be charged to participants attending the meeting.

As a general rule, the IAEA does not pay for participants’ travel and living expenses. However, limited funds are available to help meet the cost of attendance of selected specialists, mainly from developing countries with low economic resources. Generally, not more than one travel grant may be awarded to any one country.

If Governments wish to apply for a grant on behalf of one of their specialists, they should address specific requests to the IAEA Scientific Secretary at the International Atomic Energy Agency to this effect. Governments should ensure that applications for grants:

  • are received by the IAEA before 20 April 2017;
  • are accompanied by a duly completed and signed Grant Form C (pdf or word format);
  • are accompanied by a duly completed and signed Form A, Form B and abstract fully relevant to the scope of the technical meeting.

Applications that do not comply with the conditions mentioned above cannot be considered.

Awards will be announced around 28 April 2017.

Technical Meeting Location

Cultural Heritage Agency - Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Iperion CH
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Published by  NICAS