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PHySICAL: sparking solutions for the cleaning of Asian lacquers

In the PHySICAL project (Profound study of Hydrous and Solvent Interactions in Cleaning Asian Lacquer), RMAH-KMKG, UGent and the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage searched for the most effective way to clean lacquered surfaces. The result? A chemically and physically tested cleaning protocol to restore the magnificent collection of Asian lacquer items in the Art & History Museum to their full glory.

August 2016 - March 2022
Ghent University
Royal Museums of Art and History
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Steven Saverwyns
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Best practices

The solidified sap of certain trees from South-East Asia, Japan and China has been used as an organic coating material for everyday objects, art and architecture since the 16th century. Some of these items are now housed in museum collections.

For the safe and effective cleaning of these lacquered objects, the researchers of the Paintings Laboratory, in collaboration with the Art & History Museum and UGent, analysed the influence of various solvents. They formulated a set of best practices thanks to thorough analyses and test treatments. These guidelines will initially be used to safely clean and preserve the Asian lacquer collections of the Art & History Museum in the long term.

Steven Saverwyns

This project was realised thanks to the valuable support of BELSPO.

Steven Saverwyns

Our heritage is part of who we are. Let's work together to ensure this heritage can be preserved for future generations.

The altarpiece of Saint George: a spectacular restoration

After three years of research and restoration, Jan II Borman's Saint George Altarpiece (1493) hangs resplendent with beauty once again in the Museum of Art & History. The interdisciplinary study, carried out in collaboration with the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, has made unexpected discoveries and shed light on age-old mysteries. After almost two centuries, the beautifully carved statuettes have been returned to their original place in the monumental masterpiece, which has been restored. This project was made possible with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation (René and Karin Jonckheere Fund).

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