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Line drawing of Monalisa, various laboratory tools like scalpels, and a microscope

Art Bio Matters (ABM) is a dynamic and expanding gathering of curators, cultural historians, conservators, and scientists dedicated to exploring diverse research methodologies, perspectives, and objectives in the study of biological materials within cultural heritage collections. Here, your unique viewpoint is highly valued, whether you aim to enhance preservation, deepen analysis, or enrich interpretation. While rooted in the core disciplines of science, curatorial practice, and conservation, ABM enthusiastically embraces all participants interested in the exploration of cultural heritage studies.


Art Bio Matters takes proactive steps to foster and empower a vibrant community of curators, cultural historians, conservators, and scientists through various platforms including a dedicated website, Slack workspace, and biannual gatherings. At, you can freely access educational resources, discover exciting opportunities, delve into descriptions of advanced scientific methodologies such as DNA analysis, mass spectrometry, and antibody-based techniques, explore historical and conservation materials, ponder open-ended research inquiries, and engage with emerging ethical considerations, among other offerings. 


We extend a warm invitation for you to join us, embark on a journey of exploration and learning, and share your invaluable expertise. As our website continues to evolve, we eagerly welcome suggestions and contributions to ensure that we effectively cater to the needs of our growing community.

Overlooked Organics in Decorative Arts: Cataloging Skin-Based, Skeletal, and Hard Keratinous Animal Tissues
About ABM


We believe that the identification and understanding of biological materials within collections is best achieved through active education and collaboration. In pursuit of this vision, Art Bio Matters (ABM) is guided by foundational principles that underpin our mission:

Embrace the inclusive participation of specialists across all three disciplines—curatorship/cultural history, conservation, and science





Conduct candid evaluations of past projects, considering both logistical and aspirational aspects, to effectively prioritize crucial areas of study and optimize resource allocation.

Cultivate curiosity, respect, and recognition for the invaluable contributions of each discipline to the field of cultural heritage studies.

Foster an open environment in which the value of data from scientific analysis for non-scientific audiences is both debated and shared.

By joining ABM, you gain access to our vibrant Slack workspace—a hub where you can connect with fellow members, engage in discussions on diverse topics, share noteworthy research findings, explore job opportunities, and stay informed about upcoming events. Additionally, you will receive exclusive invitations to our esteemed speaker series and updates regarding our highly anticipated biannual conferences.


Thanks to funding provided by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, ABM organized the first meeting of its kind to purposefully bring together a balanced group of science, conservation, and curatorial/cultural history representatives for open discussion and debate about the contributions of advanced DNA, proteomic, and antibody‐based techniques to the study of biological materials found in cultural heritage collections. This innovative, by-invitation-only meeting, which brought together 40 international specialists was co-hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York University. ​

The ABM 2018 meeting was inaugurated by a public plenary session, Biological Material Matters in Works of Art, presented by Dr. Barbara Berrie, Head of

Scientific Research, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Eight speakers were selected by a nine-person ABM 2018 Steering Committee to address pre-determined topics, including instrumentation, sampling techniques, and relevance to the information desired by conservators, historians, and curators. ABM 2018 resulted in the emergence of a cohesive and enthusiastic community, as well as the original website. It also accentuated the essential role of collaborative deliberations to maximize efforts to study, interpret, present, and preserve material cultural heritage. Advancements since 2018 have only reinforced the need for communication and continued discourse among all stakeholders.

Why join the Art Bio Matters community?

Members of the ABM community enjoy many benefits, regardless of their area of interest. Our website and Slack workspace have something for everyone:

Access ABM 2018, 2021, and 2023 conference recordings and background materials.

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Connect with colleagues, discuss research questions, and network in the ABM Slack community. Visit our Join the Community tab for more information.

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ABM has biannual conferences sharing ongoing research through a dynamic forum of exchange. Visit the ABM Meetings tab for more information.

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Build the ABM website

We need you to develop new content for the ABM website. Please email or message in Slack if you are interested to do any of the following:

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Provide a link to your publications, projects, or Opportunities to share with potential partners.

Present an update on current projects through ABM's webinar lecture series.

Provide a link to a case study or video that applies to our Materials, Instrumentation, Ethics, and Sampling pages.

Join and Help Build Art Bio Matters!

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