My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Close examinations: Fakes, mistakes and discoveries.

While writing for the UCL Cheltenham Blog I had invited you to go discover the exhibition behind a talk I had attended. The talk was by Ashok Roy, the head of science at the National Gallery. So far I hadn’t gotten round to it. However, following meeting Ashok Roy in person when he came to visit our laboratories last week I got another push to go see the exhibition. So yesterday, as I was in the area for the NOISEmakers workshop I decided to make the time to drop in.

As is quite evident from the exhibition’s title, the exhibition goes through the way scientists contribute to the process of identifying which paintings may be fakes, where mistakes have been made in authorship, and also occasionally identifying a precious painting in what was previously thought to be a lowly copy.

I am obviously very pleased every time the topic of heritage science is brought to the forefront of the public’s mind. This would hopefully make it easier for me to describe what I do, as well as increase the awareness of people to the scientific contribution in heritage and related fields.

As a scientist I would have loved to have seen more science in the exhibition. However, keeping in mind that this is a general exhibit, at least the basic principles of looking at underdrawings, or looking at the support and using cross-sections were evident themes throughout the exhibit. More science was also put into a video running on a loop at the end of the exhibition, where more details could be gone into about the different techniques by explaining while demonstrating the equipment.

I would have appreciated seeing more, but as a still-emerging field in the minds of the public, this was definitely a good start! And if you cannot visit the exhibition yourself, most of the exhibition is also online!

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August 2010
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