Beaufort Delaney "Twilight Street", 1946
An interview with MOXY researcher Nina Olsson on treating Delaney's Twillight Street
MOXY researcher Nina Olsson recently treated an urban landscape oil and casein painting by Harlem Renaissance painter Beauford Delaney from 1946, titled "Twilight Street". Significant carbon soot depositions obscured the unvarnished surface, perhaps dating to the struggling artist's coal or wood stove heated studio, and severe lifting of the high impasto surface layers, caused by humid storage conditions, were major obstacles to overcome. It is no surprise that Olsson described the "Twilight Street" treatment as one of the more challenging in her career and that AO MOXY technology would have been of remarkable assistance in treating this painting since atomic oxygen has the unique capacity to transform carbon into volatile species and remove soot in a non-contact way.
From February 2024 the Harlem Renaissance masterpiece is on display at the Portland Art Museum, and we are very excited to share its' story told by Nina Olsson and Martha Ullman West. Interview link
Photos by Nina Olsson
Micrograph of the crescent moon before treatment, showing deposition of carbon soot, and the formation of cadmium oxide on the surface
MOXY project presented at Neumuralismo Urbano Workshop in Rome
Silvia Pizzimenti from University of Pisa presented MOXY project at the theoretical/practical workshop organised by Istituto Centrale del Restauro in collaboration with our Italian project on the Sustainable Preservation Strategies for Street Art (https://prin2020superstar.dcci.unipi.it/). The workshop aimed to give a panoramic view of the more innovative sustainable practices in conservation for the preservation of street art.
Green Transformation in Cultural Heritage Conservation
Round Table Meeting November 9th, 2023 University of Amsterdam
Round table discussion 13:30-17:30
Please join us virtually for the first in-person Green Cluster meeting, where we will kick-start discussion and allow researchers from the MOXY, GoGreen, and GreenArt projects to consider the future of Green Conservation, and concrete collaborations between the Green Cluster projects under the Horizon Green Innovation for Cultural Heritage research initiative. The format is a round table discussion to brainstorm the most significanttopics/concepts/themes and possible joint initiatives. Several topics will be presented by a moderator to formulate the problem, which the participants will discuss.
To receive a link for virtual attendance contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservators and scientists collaborate with European Space Agency innovating NASA’s non-contact cleaning technology using oxygen atoms from space in laboratory
In September 18-24 the ICOM-CC 20th Triennial Conference, with the theme: Working Towards a Sustainable Past, gathered in Valencia University scientists, conservators, archivists, and museum and library professionals to discuss how to preserve cultural heritage in times of climate crisis in a sustainable and green way.
Horizon Europe MOXY project researchers returned to atomic oxygen at ICOM-CC 20th Triennial Conference, as the concept of non-contact artworks cleaning was also first presented at ICOM-CC Triennial by Bruce Banks and Sharon Miller.
MOXY project research, covering the experments at European Space Agency lab as well as non-contact cleaning testing on sensitive art materials, was presented by principal researchers Tomas Markevicius and Nina Olsson.
The open online access to the research paper Nascent oxygen innovation in art conservation: cold atmospheric pressure plasma-generated monoatomic oxygen for non-contact cleaning of works of art is expected by the end of 2023 at icom-cc-publications-online.
AO technology’s eco-design and sustainability goals presented at
Life Cycle Management Conference
MOXY project partner, the WeLOOP team obtained their first results on the environmental hotspot analysis of the MOXY technology – the atmospheric plasma-generated monoatomic oxygen – used to restore works of art. The hotspot analysis is performed via Life Cycle Assessment, and the results were presented last week at the 11th International Conference on Life Cycle Management in Lille, France. This conference gathered 950 LCA practitioners from all over the world, and was a great occasion to interact with the community. The hotspot analysis is the first step in the eco-design process of the MOXY device. This analysis will be followed up with an eco-design workshop with the project partners to identify opportunities to decrease impacts, and a comparative LCA in which the MOXY device is compared with alternative cleaning methods, to put its environmental performance in perspective.
The LCM (Life Cycle Management) conference series is one of the world’s leading forums for environmental, economic and social sustainability. The focus is on practical solutions for the implementation of life cycle approaches into strategic and operational decision-making, whether in science, industry, NGOs or public institutions.
MOXY project presented at ICOMOS General Assembly in Sydney
MOXY project presented in ICOMOS General Assembly in Sydney.
Please do not touch: novel atmospheric atomic oxygen generator for non-contact cleaning of cultural heritage objects in action
MOXY researchers at Ghent University and the Eindhoven University of Technology continue working on an innovative design of an atmospheric atomic oxygen generator, tailored for cultural heritage applications. The video shows soot removal from a limestone sample.
MOXY researchers reconstructed NASA's treatment of Andy Warhol's painting The Bathtub (1961, The Andy Warhol Museum) and presented the results at the TECHNART 2023 conference in Lisbon, May 04-12
The 2023 edition of TECHNART, the international conference, held in Lisbon on May 7-12 in Lisbon, just concluded. The conference had a mission to provide a scientific forum for scientists, conservators, and museum professionals to discuss and communicate the research and innovation related to analytical techniques in the field of art and cultural heritage, to foster contacts and exchange of experiences, making a bridge between science, art, and cultural heritage. The MOXY project team presented their preliminary results in two poster presentations: MOXY Project: a preliminary investigation of non-contact cleaning of some typical art materials using atomic oxygen“ and „A New Look into NASA’s Pioneering Atomic Oxygen Treatment Removing Lipstick Defacement from Andy Warhol’s “Bathtub” (1961)“. The first poster presented the results from a preliminary study, where 39 mock-ups were produced using a range of artistic supports and media (plaster, limestone, canvas, paper, acrylic, oil paint, and pastel). Mock-ups were exposed to atomic oxygen using the low Earth orbit oxygen environment simulator LEOX at the European Space Agency (ESA). The system operates at low-pressure and uses laser detonation to separate oxygen atoms and produce an effluent of atomic oxygen at 99%, which is directed to the sample holder. Mock-ups were investigated with an array of techniques to obtain an initial assessment of the effects of AO exposure: spectrocolorimetry and reflectance spectroscopy were used to assess color differences and changes in the spectral features; scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser microprofilometry (CLM) to evaluate changes in the surface morphology; analytical pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) to gain insights into molecular effects, and the results were presented in the poster. The results obtained from this preliminary study are very promising since contaminants are successfully removed from the substrates, in particular, soot was removed from plaster, sandstone, and acrylic paint. In this context, a crucial aspect revealed by this study is the fact that the assessment of the cleaning efficiency and the effect of AO on the substrate is not straightforward due to the contact-less and solvent-less nature of the cleaning method. In contact and solvent/gel-based methods, it is often necessary to evaluate the presence of residues on the artwork surface or the degree of diffusion of solvents used for cleaning. Differently from the contact methods, for the AO-cleaning, this is not necessary, as there are no residues, but the possible effects of atomic oxygen on the artwork itself need to be investigated in depth, which calls for new cleaning assessment protocols to be combined with traditional approaches. The second MOXY poster presented new insights into the origins of AO technology, which, has its origins in a serendipitous invention, as it started with a defacing lipstick kiss on Andy Warhol’s painting Bathtub (1961) at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in 1997. Lipstick is designed for porous substrates, such as human skin, and may be extremely difficult to safely remove from delicate porous modern materials, such as the acrylic paints used by Andy Warhol. When a lipstick-wearing visitor kissed the Bathtub at an event in 1997, Ellen Baxter, the former chief conservator in charge of the treatment, noted that “Of all the paintings there for her to put her lips to, that was the worst one… I couldn’t use typical conservation methods to clean it… It was like trying to take a lipstick stain out of a piece of Kleenex”. Conservators turned to NASA where Bruce Banks and Sharon Miller were investigating AO erosion on spacecraft materials and had already tested AO treatment under low pressure for fire-damaged paintings. The “Bathtub” required a targeted treatment without placing the painting in a low-pressure chamber, and Banks and Miller pioneered an atmospheric AO apparatus which was moved to the museum and used to remove the lipstick without physically touching the surface. The treatment made headlines in the 1990s but was never repeated until recently when MOXY researchers in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) began experimenting with AO on typical cultural heritage materials using their low Earth orbit oxygen environment simulator, LEOX and to develop an innovative atmospheric AO technology in the MOXY project. In the reconstruction of the NASA Warhol treatment, contemporary lipsticks were exposed to AO under low-pressure conditions, which made lipsticks appear lighter but did not remove them. Lipsticks contained red iron oxides, which are not affected by AO. However, the AO role was essential, as it converted organic compounds in the lipstick into volatile byproducts (CO, CO2, H2O vapor), leaving a dry powdery residuum on the surface. This enabled the dry removal of the residual powder using soft natural rubber in a second step, repeating NASA’s methodology. The colorimetric analysis confirmed highly effective recovery, and FTIR-ATR did not identify molecular changes in the substrate after cleaning. The issue of slow treatment (54.9 h) can be resolved by using atmospheric AO technology in development by the MOXY project, which reduces the treatment time from multiple hours to minutes and seconds. See the poster and read more details on how exactly NASA saved Andy Warhol's painting. The results will be published in the post-prints of TECHNART2023.
MOXY full paper presentation at the AIC's 51st Annual Meeting May 16
MOXY senior researcher and paintings conservator Nina Olsson presented a full paper talk at the Research and Technical Art Studies working group at the American Institute for Conservation AIC's 51st Annual Meeting on May 16-20, 2023 this year was held under the main theme of "Conservation in the Age of Environmental, Social, and Economic Climate Change". The meeting addressed urgent present-day issues, from rising global temperatures to international conflicts, political shifts that threaten to erase hard-won rights, and a fragile and unbalanced economy. In this context, the activist and historian Rebecca Solnit said, “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” This resonates with the talk presented by Nina, about the new hope and new horizon for green technologies for non-contact cleaning of art works, co-authored by the MOXY project team "A New Horizon for Atomic Oxygen in Sustainable Heritage Conservation: Green Technology for Contactless Cleaning of the Works of Art" Research & Technical Studies) A New Horizon for Atomic Oxygen in Sustainable Heritage Conservation: Green Technology for Contactless Cleaning of the Works of Art
Full video presentation on MOXY Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/BOtufODeYKE