Seminar and symposium: The Mechanics of Art Materials

Posted on Thu, 10/06/2016 - 16:18
Historical arts and industries building


Smithsonian Institution 900 Jefferson Drive SW Arts and Industries Building Washington, DC 20560 United States

Date and time


The Mechanics of Art Materials and its Future in Heritage Science: 
A Seminar and Symposium

A special two-day event organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Monday, October 24, 2016 at 8:00 AM - Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 6:00 PM (EST)

The Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) in collaboration with the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) is pleased to announce our upcoming event “The Mechanics of Art Materials and its Future in Heritage Science: A Seminar and Symposium,” to be held at the Smithsonian’s historical Arts and Industries building. This program brings experts in mechanics research from across the globe to discuss current and future trends in the study and preservation of cultural heritage. Speakers will represent a continuum of this research, from its origins to those professionals currently working to shape their field and train future generations of scholars. This special event is designed to honor previous research while encouraging forward thinking through opportunities to meet and hear from scholars at the forefront of innovative mechanics research in the cultural heritage sector.

Day One of the program will feature the popular paint mechanics workshop created and taught by MCI Senior Scientist Emeritus Marion Mecklenburg, condensed into a single-day seminar. The morning program on Day Two will feature an international group of speakers presenting case studies on the state of mechanics research around the globe, while the afternoon program will feature emerging U.S.-based speakers and their thoughts on the future of the field.

This intensive, two-day event will provide attendees with an overview of the behavior of art materials and connect that information directly to the activities of those scholars currently shaping the field of heritage mechanics studies. Day Two presentations will focus on the impact of mechanics research in the cultural heritage sector with talks on topics including risk assessment and collections monitoring, the fiscal impact of changes in collections care, new protocols for transit and storage environments, and the application of mechanics research to decorative and archival collections as well as to materials found in contemporary art. Day Two will conclude with a panel discussion on advancing stakeholder participation in mechanics research and application. A post-event publication will include a historiography of mechanics research at the Smithsonian, the case studies and vision papers prepared by the Day Two speakers, Dr. Mecklenburg’s 1982 unpublished report to the Smithsonian on the mechanical behavior of painting materials, and a bibliography of Smithsonian heritage mechanics publications.

Registration is priced at $60 per person and will include coffee/tea breaks and lunch on both days, as well as an evening reception on October 24. There is no single-day registration option. Registration for this two-day event is now open.

This event is taking place at a time of renewed interest and innovation in the field of mechanical studies of art and artist materials and this program is designed to engage a broad audience of scholars, students, practitioners, and policy makers. We look forward to seeing you at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in October for this special event! If you have questions, please contact Dawn Rogala( or Cecil Krarup Anderson (

This event is supported in part by the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute; the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, through the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation; the Smithsonian Office of the Provost/Under Secretary of Museums and Research, and the Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations; and the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators.

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