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Looking at Europe's flamboyant cathedrals, it is easy to forget that even stone does not last forever. Without effective conservation, gargoyles erode, stained glass shatters, and choir stalls eventually rot. EU-funded researchers have produced innovative compounds to protect our cultural heritage.
Published: 15 July 2015
An EU-funded research project has developed highly-sensitive detectors to monitor corrosive atmospheric pollutants in museums and archives. The detectors warn when preventative action is needed to protect Europe's cultural artefacts - and heritage - before they are damaged by corrosion. Commercial success has followed the project and funded follow-up research on new applications, from vehicle corrosion to the paper industry.
Published: 1 June 2015
At Rome's National Gallery of Ancient Art crate up "Narcissus", a masterpiece by Caravaggio, in preparation for a long journey. Like many fine art works, this late 16th century painting is being loaned to a temporary exhibition in another museum.
Published: 31 March 2015
Ancient and historical masterpieces are often exposed to the potential harmful effects of a changing environment or inappropriate restoration and handling. Until recently, the lack of a wider perspective of the heritage conservation activities in Europe, as well as the absence of a universally accepted code as to what constitutes best practice to conserve art and artefacts, have been limiting factors to the development of European research in this field.
Published: 18 November 2014
Castles and cathedrals, statues and spires... Europe's built environment would not be the same without these witnesses of centuries past. But, eventually, even the hardest stone will crumble. EU-funded researchers have developed innovative nano-materials to improve the preservation of our architectural heritage.
Published: 20 October 2014
Even 10 seconds can make a difference. When Japan was hit by the earthquake in 2011, early-warning systems were in place, and within seconds even the high-speed "bullet" trains stopped. About half of Europe is also a high-risk earthquake area, especially Mediterranean countries like Greece, Italy, and other regions around the Black Sea.
Published: 7 October 2014
Fires can have a devastating impact on invaluable archaeological and cultural sites. These areas are often at greater risk of fires because they are commonly surrounded by vegetation or situated close to forest regions. Early detection, however, can significantly reduce the potential damage fires cause.
Published: 11 August 2014
Objects showcased in museums or exhibitions are vulnerable to the effects of pollutants both from outside the building where they are housed as well as from potential substances found inside. Better measuring tools could enable curators and conservators of cultural artefacts to take the necessary steps to ensure their protection.
Published: 4 August 2014
A clear understanding of how environmental factors can affect historical buildings and structures is vital for their long-term conservation. To date, monitoring systems have focused on a limited range of environmental pressures, such as air pollution and temperature, but the system designed and commercialised by the European Union (EU)-funded SMooHS project widens the range of factors monitored and analysed, thus allowing better protective measures to be taken.
Published: 16 June 2014
The precious relics on show in our museums provide us with a unique connection to the past which might otherwise be lost. But these remains are fragile, and the danger is not always visible. Airborne pollutants are among the threats. They are invisible, destructive and rarely detected.
Published: 6 March 2014