Types of object examined

- Paintings on panel or canvas
- Glass objects
- Wooden sculpture
- Small metal objects
- Archaelogical objects
- Stone objects with metal fixtures
- Reliquaries containing bones
- Watermarks in paper
- Embroidered fabrics with metal thread.

Equipment and materials

- Generators: We use 50kV to 160kV generators, depending on the type and size of art work.
- Film: We use high quality industrial film for maximum resolution. We use both 30 x 40 cm plates and long, 35 cm wide bands.

We are currently investigating the possibility of computed radiography to complement our film-based system.

Working procedure

- X-Radiographs are generated at the Institute in a large, dedicated, lead-lined studio.
- On-site work is carried out using our 110kV portable, air-cooled generator.
- X-radiographs are developed at the Institute.
- Scanning: Developed x-radiographic plates are scanned with a high resolution laser scanner.
- Mosaics: Seamless assemblies of scanned x-radiographs are made using Adobe Photoshop.
- Storage of images: X-ray plates are stored in our air-conditioned cellar. Raw and processed scanned images are stored on the Institute's picture archiving system.
- Image processing for publication: Where radiographic images are difficult to read due to factors such as the presence of a cradle on the reverse of a panel painting, we can often improve legibility through image processing.

On-site work

Owing to the inherent dangers of x-radiography, safety procedures are strictly observed. In the case of museums, a preliminary site visit is usually necessary, as well as radiation measurements by ControlAtom. Work is usually carried out when the institution is closed to the public. Taking x-radiographs in private properties requires careful assessment as to feasibility.



Head of the unit: Christina Currie, work leader
X-Radiography: Catherine Fondaire, technical expert