Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences
Public Lecture Series

Monthly talks framed around explorations in and around science archives. Discussions by archivists, historians, teachers, journalists, scientists and other academics.

Deconstructing Art: Tales of Craft, Science, and History in Heritage Conservation

Anupam Sah
Head of Art Conservation, Research and Training. CSMVS Museum, Mumbai


Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018. 5:00pm.
Lecture Hall -1 (Haapus), NCBS.

When it comes to art conservation, all measures and actions should respect the significance and the physical properties of the cultural heritage item, knowing how and when to intervene and when to let things stay as they are. It requires a systems approach, knowing that various problems are inter-related and form networked cycles of effects and causes.

Familiar tools and words find new purpose in conservation and restoration: X-Ray and CT scans of millennia-old Egyptian mummies, laser ablation to flick off centuries of grime collected on the ancient gold-gilded sculpture of Maitreya Buddha, modern nebulizers that come to the rescue of a 400-year-old miniature painting, forensics with ultra violet fluorescence and infra red imaging to capture retouching and layers in art works, and spectroscopy to detect elements in paint pigments.

This illustrated lecture covers these and more. It weaves a story that introduces how art objects are created from diverse raw materials in various regions of India, and how such techniques have evolved and adapted to the changing times. The talk will explain how art objects are examined, analysed and treated to arrest their deterioration. Moving on to a larger view, with the help of a case study, the talk will describe how the dying mural painting traditions in Orissa were revived and employed as a lever for socio-economic development of marginalised artisans.

Come for the Maitreya Buddha. Stay for the magical world of art creation and conservation.