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  • ABOUT | Art Bio Matters

    ABOUT ABM Get in Touch Join the Community WHO WE ARE 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. WHAT WE DO 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. WHAT WE BELIEVE 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 1 2 3 4 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. HISTORY OF ART BIO MATTERS 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. Engaging Dialogue Connection + Partnership Community Driven 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. Anchor 1 Communicate through the ABM Slack workspace Connect with colleagues, discuss research questions, and network in the ABM Slack community. Visit our Join the Community tab for more information. Join the Community Participate in an ABM meeting ABM has biannual conferences sharing ongoing research through a dynamic forum of exchange. Visit the ABM Meetings tab for more information. ABM Meetings 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: Share a project Give a talk 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. Educate and reach out 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!

  • Caroline Shaver

    Caroline Shaver Graduate fellow Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation Previous Next Delaware, USA MEMBER INFORMATION Participant 2023, Graduate student assistant 2023 Caroline Shaver is a graduate fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and is currently completing an internship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She specializes in the conservation of decorated surfaces on furniture, frames, objects, and architectural woodwork. She has a particular interest in furthering her study of multilayered surface coatings such as lacquer, gilding, paints, and varnishes. ​ ​ All members

  • Cordula van Wyhe

    Cordula van Wyhe Senior Lecturer, History of Art Department University of York, UK Previous Next York, UK MEMBER INFORMATION Team Presenter 2023 Cordula’s intellectual journey began in the Low Countries, where she developed her interests in seventeenth-century religious and political imagery, female spirituality, and court culture. She is committed to a humane art history that strives to understand how our visual and tactile engagement with form and matter creates meaning. Her research and teaching extends to dress history beyond early modern Europe. She is passionate about teaching as a collaborative venture of co-discovery and knowledge creation. Victorian Parasols: Scientists, Artisans, Historians and Curators in Conversation Co-authored with Vanessa Jones. Read Abstract ​ All members

  • Kristin Windmuller-Luna

    Kristin Windmuller-Luna Sills Family Consulting Curator, African Arts Brooklyn Museum Previous Next New York, NY, USA MEMBER INFORMATION Participant 2018 Curator and art historian Dr. Kristen Windmuller-Luna (Ph.D., Princeton University) specializes in the arts and architectures of Africa, with a focus on the early modern era and Christian Ethiopia. Her object-centered curatorial approach emphasizes collaboration, as well as the combination of field, archival, and scientific-based research. ​ ​ All members

  • Paper

    Composition Conservation Historical Use Case Studies Paper Cellulose fibers, most commonly from wood or plants, are processed to produce the thin sheets of material known as paper. Processing can involve both mechanical or chemical modification of the raw material to create a pulp, followed by pressing, and drying. Previous Next Back to Materials Coming Soon We need you to develop new content for the ABM website. Please email or message in Slack if you are interested in building the ABM website.

  • Lara Kaplan

    Lara Kaplan Objects Conservator and Affiliated Assistant Professor Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation Previous Next Winterthur, USA MEMBER INFORMATION Team Presenter 2021 Lara Kaplan is an objects conservator at Winterthur Museum and an affiliated assistant professor at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). Since 2017, she has led the organic objects portion of WUDPAC’s first-year conservation curriculum and beginning in 2019 came on board as a full-time objects conservator at Winterthur Museum. She earned an M.S. in art conservation from WUDPAC in 2003; interned at the Sheldon Jackson Museum, the Arizona State Museum, and the National Park Service Western Archeological and Conservation Center; and held a post-graduate Mellon Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Prior to working at Winterthur, she ran a private conservation practice in Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Kaplan’s research interests include organic materials, especially skin and leather, the treatment of plastics, and ethical considerations for non-traditional collections. Overlooked Organics in Decorative Arts: Cataloging Skin-Based, Skeletal, and Hard Keratinous Animal Tissues Read Abstract ​ All members

  • HOME | Art Bio Matters

    Welcome to ABM A Cross-Disciplinary Hub for Biological Materials Research in Cultural Heritage About ABM Education Community Meetings Resources Members Opportunities MISSION STATEMENT ART BIO MATTERS (ABM) provides a stimulating forum in which to explore current and new directions in the study of biological materials found in cultural heritage collections. Communication and partnerships are facilitated by a robust website, dedicated Slack channel, and interactive Art Bio Matters Meetings. While the core disciplines of ABM are science, curatorial/cultural history, and conservation, ABM welcomes other stakeholders involved in cultural heritage studies. A key aspect of the forum is the opportunity to discuss research at any stage of completion among a balanced community of experts in a format designed to promote collegial dialogue and debate. Read more about ABM ONSITE EVENT ABM 2023 ABM 2023 was an in-person meeting in NYC, continuing as a platform for open dialogue and debate between specialists interested in biological materials investigations of cultural heritage. Meetings EXPLORE ABM Projects Discover projects from the ABM community Explore Opportunities Explore opportunities for education, professional development, employment, funding, and more. Show more Events Stay connected to the most recent events with bimonthly ABM virtual presentations by ABM Members and other events of interest. Show more Join us and become a part of the ABM c ommunity

  • EVENTS | Art Bio Matters

    OPPORTUNITIES Events Fellowships Funding Internships Jobs Studentships Mentorship Workshops + Courses Categories COMING UP These events are coming up soon! If you have an event to post, please email . No events or deadlines coming up now. Check again later! 36th CIHA World Congress - Lyon 2024 The 36th CIHA Congress is organized under the aegis of the Comité français d'histoire de l'art (CFHA) in partnership between the CFHA, the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA), the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and the Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA CNRS UMR 5190). The main aims of this internationally-renowned scientific and cultural event are to share and disseminate research by bringing together communities of art history and heritage around a unifying theme. Details ECBSM2024 - 6th European Conference on Biodeterioration of Stone Monuments A great opportunity to gather researchers, heritage professionals, industry experts, teachers, and students working for the conservation of historic and culturally relevant objects and buildings. Abstracts due by September 9, 2024 Registration deadline: September 18, 2024 Milan, Italy on 7-8 November 2024 Details PAST EVENTS These events have already passed. If you like what you see, don't miss upcoming events! AMNH Techniques Tuesday Details Lindsey Paskulin is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia and lab manager of the ADaPT Archaeological Laboratory that is a dedicated space for ancient DNA and paleoproteomic analysis. Her talk will provide background on collagen mass fingerprinting and shotgun proteomics techniques as well as discuss her research focused on applying proteomic techniques to vessel interiors and vessel residues to reconstruct elements of food processing, preparation, and consumption in the past. Please see ABM members' Slack for Zoom link. Reimagining Materiality: Artistic Interventions and Sustainable Innovations in algae-based polymers Details Jessica French May 17th, 2024 6:30 PM ET In this seminar, French delves into her pioneering work with algae-based polymers, a cornerstone of her artistic practice. Through 'Other Matter', her experimental design studio, French champions sustainability with innovative outcomes for algae-based bioplastics, impacting beyond the cultural sector. The talk will offer an overview of her artistic journey, showcasing how traditional techniques are transformed by groundbreaking sustainable materials, including her innovative non-petrochemical decal signage—Other Matter Decals™. These exemplify the practical implementation of closed-loop, zero-waste systems. The discussion not only highlights French’s unique blend of research and creative experimentation but also fosters a broader conversation on the role of sustainable practices in transforming artistic production and environmental responsibility. Additionally, the seminar will address ongoing research questions and spotlight knowledge and data gaps inherent in working with unconventional materials, underscoring the critical need for continued investigation and collaboration in this evolving field. Identification of a lichen dye source in a fifteenth century medieval tapestry Details Rachel Lackner Apr 18th, 2024 11:00 AM ET As part of a long-term campaign to clean, conserve, and treat the Heroes tapestries from The Cloisters collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, organic colorant analysis of Julius Caesar (accession number 47.101.3) was performed. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis of several dark brown samples revealed the presence of several molecules produced only by certain species of lichen. Various lichen dye sources have been documented in the literature for centuries and are classified as either ammonia fermentation method (AFM) or boiling water method (BWM) dyes based on their method of production. However, none of these known sources produce the distinctive metabolites present in the tapestry. Lichen metabolites were definitively identified in the tapestry by LC-MS based on comparison with a reference of Lecanora sulphurata. This finding marks the first time that these lichen metabolites have been identified in a historic object, and the first evidence that BWM lichen dyes may have been used prior to the eighteenth century. This is a members-only event. Registration links will be sent directly to ABM members. ABM March Round Table Details ABM members share their current research projects and challenges to spark conversation and connect with relevant colleagues: Thainá Vígio is seeking other fungicide methods other than freezing and anoxia treatment for 19th c. silk textiles. Pamela Hatchfield will discuss an outdoor Chinese sandstone sculpture compromised by a myriad of microbiological growth, and how to evaluate the risk of further damage from these species. Micheal Galardi (Celeste Mahoney) will discuss light spots uncovered on a Huastec sandstone relief and wonders about the possibility of biological growth as a factor. This is a members-only event. Registration links will be sent directly to ABM members. 2024 Edition: 'New Perspectives in the Study of Medieval Manuscripts' Details Inaugural Seminar. Jiří Vnouček Conservator of parchment, paper & bookbinding The Royal Library, Copenhagen Changes in production of parchment during one millennium: 4th to 14th centuries Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Sala de Grados 2 de febrero de 2024 · 16:00h The seminar will take place in a hybrid format and is open to the general public. To register, please send an email to The cause of much chagrin: using marine shagreen for the marine historical ecology of elasmobranchs Details Rachel Winter December 14th, 2023 11 AM ET / 4 PM GMT Marine shagreen is a luxurious, storied leather made from the skins of elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates). Demand for marine shagreen peaked between the 17th-19th centuries in northwestern Europe. Once elasmobranch skins have been turned into shagreen, more precise taxonomic identification than shark or ray is not possible. Preliminary review of historical sources indicates at least 17 species, spanning the Atlantic Ocean to the Indo-Pacific, were targeted. One third of all elasmobranch species are classified as being threatened with extinction by the IUCN. A key challenge to conservation efforts is the lack of historical data, long term perspectives, and ecological baselines. This talk will discuss some of the potential avenues and challenges for studying marine shagreen museum objects for insights into which species and seas were targeted. Exploring how shagreen can be used to investigate the ecological consequences of historic elasmobranch fisheries and investigate past species biogeography. Animal mummy genomics: success, failure and collaborative interpretation Details Evon Hekkala Fordham University and American Museum of Natural History November 14th, 2023 11 AM ET / 4 PM GMT Silk and Science: Collaborative research into a knitted waistcoat associated with Charles I Details Jane Malcolm-Davies (Project Leader, Knitting in Early Modern Europe), Beatrice Behlen (Senior Curator, Fashion and Decorative Arts, Museum of London), and Paula Nabais (Junior Researcher at LAQV-REQUIMTE Research unit) May 18th, 2023 11AM EDT/3PM GMT Since 1924, the Museum of London has had an undergarment, knitted of fine silk, said to have been worn by King Charles I at his execution in 1649. Several attempts have been made to analyse stains on the front of what would then have been called a waistcoat, and to fill gaps in its provenance. A new research project has brought together a curator, a knitting historian, a conservator, scientists, and expert craftspeople, including knitters. Different methods have been used to broaden knowledge of this rare garment: detailed object examination and description, comparison with other extant garments, radiocarbon dating, various dye analysis techniques, and silk sample knitting. In this talk, the challenges and advantages of this work will be discussed: from discoveries that can be made by looking at objects together to the difficulties of grappling with science for those unfamiliar with laboratory techniques. Click "Explore" below to learn more about the project! Compound Specific Radiocarbon (14C) Dating of Our Colorful Past: from Theory to Practice Details Laura Hendriks, Branco Weiss Fellow at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), Switzerland April 20th, 2023 11AM EDT/3PM GMT Join us for a 20-minute presentation by ABM member Laura Hendriks, Branco Weiss Fellow at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), Switzerland. Laura’s presentation will be followed by a discussion/Q&A with current ABM members. For more information, click “Explore” below to view her abstract. “Non-invasive” techniques: X-ray tomography of Congolese Wooden objects Details Sofie Dierickx, Research Assistant at Royal Museum for Central Africa March 16th, 2023 11AM EST/3PM GMT In an effort to research the wealth of tropical wood species present in the Congolese art collection, the conservation team of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium set up the TOCOWO project (Tomography of Congolese Wooden Objects). In collaboration with the University of Ghent, X-ray micro-computer tomography could be used on the objects to obtain wood identifications non-destructively. Over the past two years, over a hundred objects have been scanned at very high resolutions. These scans provide an unprecedented insight into the objects in our care, helping us better understand their material and history. On the other hand, this unrestricted insight into every inch of the objects demands we ask ourselves whether possible privileged or sacred knowledge, kept hidden by the objects all these years, is really ours to uncover. In this short talk, both the possibilities and challenges of scanning African heritage objects will be illustrated by the uniquely large dataset of their 3D renderings. Characterization of an unusual coating on Egyptian funerary portraits Details Dan Kirby, Conservation Scientist, MFA, Boston and Private Practice January 19th, 2023 11AM EST/4PM GMT An unusual, never before seen coating on 1st – 3rd CE Romano-Egyptian funerary portraits has been characterized by Peptide Mass Fingerprinting and Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry, as well as other techniques. Radiocarbon dating of the coating from two of the portraits indicated that the coating is approximately 2,000 years old--it is not a modern conservation intervention! Most interesting, however, is not discovering what the coating is, but trying to discover why it is there. This talk will briefly introduce the materials and practices of funerary portraits, summarize the examination and analytical characterization of this unusual coating, and offer speculation as to its original purpose. Archaeological Perspectives on Worked Animal Materials in the Greek World Details Adam DiBattista, PhD, Archeology Hirsch Fellow at American School of Classical Studies, Athens, Greece December 17th, 2022 11AM EST/4PM GMT Join us for a 20-minute presentation by ABM member Adam DiBattista, Hirsch Fellow at American School of Classical Studies. Adam is an archaeologist researching the creation and use of objects made from animal materials (e.g., bone, antler, ivory) in the Iron Age Mediterranean. His presentation will be followed by a discussion/Q&A with current ABM members. A recording of this talk is available exclusively for ABM members, which can be accessed via Slack.

  • MENTORSHIP | Art Bio Matters

    OPPORTUNITIES Events Fellowships Funding Internships Jobs Studentships Mentorship Workshops + Courses Categories MENTORSHIP Need guidance or willing to share your expertise? Find a mentor or be one! Coming Soon

  • Catherine Stephens

    Catherine Stephens Sally and Michael Gordon Conservation Scientist Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Previous Next New York, NY, USA MEMBER INFORMATION Participant 2023 Catherine H. Stephens, Ph.D., is the Sally and Michael Gordon Conservation Scientist at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, USA. Her work is focused on using analytical instrumentation, including mapping and handheld XRF, FTIR, SPME- and py- GCMS, MFT, and optical microscopy to inform conservation treatments, identify the composition of specific objects, study the environment around the art, and provide guidance for how to display and store MoMA’s collection. ​ ​ All members

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