The world-famous Louvre museum in Paris is perhaps most well known for the Mona Lisa, but there are many other noteworthy paintings that travelers come from all over the world to see. Many of these are still life paintings that are hundreds of years old. And while curators use a variety of resins to protect the paintings from elements such as dirt and moisture, if museum visitors get too close, their health could also be at risk.
“The shelf life of fruits, cheeses and meats is obviously not hundreds of years,” said art historian and researcher Ella Salmon. “As such, we apply special resins to keep the food in these still life paintings fresh—but sometimes we cannot control the environment, and as a result, certain pathogens can contaminate the foods.”
Researchers at Université du Croquer may have come up with a solution. They developed a handheld scanner that provides rapid detection of pathogens on still life paintings, allowing curators to quickly detect contamination. This will help them take any paintings down to remove potentially dangerous pathogens from the path of unsuspecting art enthusiasts.
“This is truly a breakthrough technology,” says Ella. “Within the past two weeks, we placed four paintings in quarantine for treatment, including ‘Still life with Ham’ and ‘Fruit and Vegetables with a Monkey, Parrot and Squirrel’. We have been looking for this kind of solution for a long time, and are pleased to now have the ability to allow visitors to get more up close and personal with the art, as we will have assurances that they will be safe.”
Researchers are testing the technology at the Louvre and anticipate making it more widely available within the next six months.
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