Important legal notice
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Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage - Conserving our common legato
“Using new technologies and techniques to protect Europe’s cultural heritage”

The problem

When assessing the state of paper products in archives, museums and libraries, conservators can use a number of physical and chemical tests. Such tests reveal the condition and general preservation needs of collections. However, the chemicals and techniques currently being used are harmful to the objects being tested. What conservators need is a non-invasive way of carrying out those essential condition surveys and a means to help them to assess future conservation priorities safely.

SurveNIR  Hi-tech approach to protecting Europe’s archives


Near infrared spectroscopy is used in industry as a production control tool. It allows for the rapid recording of information without harming the subject. Collected data can then be analysed using advanced statistical, user-friendly software interface. Such a tool could be very useful to conservators, helping them to record the material composition and chemical state of books and documents. Using the tool, collection managers will be able to plan preservation activities.

The SurveNIR project aims to:

  • Develop a spectroscopic analytical tool and related software specifically for the surveying of paper objects that are important to Europe’s cultural heritage. Testing will take place in seven significant European collections.

Contribution to policy development:

  • The project will contribute to EU policies that aim to preserve and enhance Europe’s cultural heritage, specifically in the field of research and development
  • SurveNIR’s success will increase the value of cultural heritage in EU policies relating to regional development and the sustainable development of tourism
  • It will reinforce the competitiveness of European SMEs, which are already world leaders in the production of conservation equipment, tools and materials

Project deliverables

  • Collection of data on material samples – October 2005
  • SurveNIR web pages – March 2006
  • Evaluation of spectral data – January 2007
  • Development of SurveNIR tool and software – April 2008
  • Publication of project handbook and code of practice – July 2008


  • Project leaflet targeted at a general audience – January 2006
  • The project web pages will be developed to disseminate information to the widest-possible audience, including non-specialists – March 2006
  • A workshop and conference on project results – July 2008
  • Project handbook – July 2008
  • Participation in relevant scientific conferences and, when appropriate, publication of scientific and technical papers in international journals

Technical information

Project acronym: SurveNIR
Project’s official full title: Near Infrared Spectroscopy Tool for Collection Surveying
Research priority: The protection of cultural heritage and associated conservation strategies
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: SSP3-006594
Start date: 1 August 2005
Kick off meeting: 12 September 2005
Completion date: July 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Michel Chapuis, and Ellen Schraudolph,

Name: University of Ljubljana
Abbreviated name: UNI-LJ
Address: Kongresni trg 12
1000 Ljubljana
Country: Slovenia
Tel: +386 1 241 8500
Fax: +386 1 241 8660


Name: Zentrum für Bucherhaltung
Abbreviated name: ZfB
Country: Germany

Name: National and University Library
Abbreviated name: NUL
Country: Slovenia

Name: National Archives
Abbreviated name: NA
Country: The Netherlands

Name: The British Library
Abbreviated name: BL
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Victoria and Albert Museum
Abbreviated name: V&A
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Riksarkivet
Abbreviated name: RA
Country: Sweden

Name: National Museum of Denmark
Abbreviated name: NMD
Country: Denmark