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Mineralogy and Art History  

I do not remember all the details of it - but a lot of the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel would not be possible without mineralogical tools, and more importantly, development of new mineralogical methods (e.g. xray-ing very minute quantities of minerals in the pigments). Ultimately, this led to entirely new layers and parigis of paints being discovered - many put on years after Michelangelo, as perceived moral values altered. Without mineralogy we would not have any of these information today, nor any of the insight into the work of Michelangelo as well as those who came after, to put on those extra layers! These were the substance of some exciting symposia at the 1994 IMA meeting in Pisa, and subsequently a nice volume was produced, I just do not remember where.

And more routinely and less spectacularly (but a more regular job market!), infrared and Raman spectroscopy are standard tools of trade in art restoration. What is marketed as chemistry is often nothng other than mineral identification.


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