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Microscopy for the Conservator of Art and Artifacts


Course schedule: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Friday

This course covers the core polarized light microscopy curriculum and methods of sampling, characterization and identification of pigments, grounds, media and fibers.

There is no prerequisite for this course, and it satisfies the same prerequisites as course 1201.

Day 1
Optics, reflection, refraction, contrast, resolution, numerical aperture, refractive index, crystal morphology and microchemical tests.

Identification, function, adjustment, care and cleaning of the polarized light microscope components.

Köhler illumination, micrometry, measuring particle size, fiber diameters, pigment particle size and layer thickness.

Day 2
Single polar crystal optics, refractive indices, methods of measurement, Becke line, pleochroism, dispersion staining.

Day 3
Crossed polar crystal optics, birefringence, compensators, Michel-Levy chart, sign of elongation and extinction.

Fiber characteristics (vegetable, animal and man-made).

Day 4
Sampling and mounting techniques, use of atlases and reference standards, identification of pigments (particle shape, surface, cleavage, isotropy, anisotropy, refractive index, Becke line, color, pleochroism, birefringence, etc.).
Identification of media, surface coatings and glue.

Study of paintings, selection area, sampling and mounting techniques (cross sections and crushings), characterization and identification.

Microminiaturization and analytical procedures (ultramicrochemistry, micro solubility, micro density, micro refractive index, micro grinding, micro X-ray diffraction, particle-picking, micro extraction).

Day 5
Photomicrography (illumination, selection and preparation of sample, precise focusing, exposure measurement and control).

Special methods (phase, interference, fluorescence, electron microscopes, microprobes, chromatography, emission spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and dating methods).