The GCI will host the 5th International Infrared and Raman Users Group (IRUG) meeting, March 4-8, 2002, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The meeting will feature presentations by conservation scientists and conservators on applications of infrared (IR) and Raman analytical techniques to materials associated with artistic and historical objects in collections. During the meeting, issues regarding publication and further dissemination of the results of the working group will be addressed and discussed. In addition, invited experts from conservation, academia, and industry will discuss various aspects of the chemical makeup, behavior, and characterization of contemporary synthetic resins.

The use of IR spectroscopy to identify natural and synthetic organic products, pigments, dyes, and minerals has become widespread in the conservation field. For a long time, however, few extensive reference spectral sources of historical materials were available. In response to the need for the development of an IR and Raman spectral library of materials, as well as increased information exchange on sampling and analysis techniques, IRUG was formed.

This informal group is dedicated to the professional development of its members by providing a forum for the exchange of IR and Raman spectroscopic information, reference spectra, and reference materials. IRUG is comprised of individuals working in art conservation and historic preservation who use IR and Raman spectroscopy to study materials used in art.

GCI staff played a major role in establishing the group and in promoting the idea of compiling IR reference spectra contributed by conservation professionals who make extensive use of IR spectroscopy in their work. At the American Institute for Conservation meeting in June 1993, a number of IR users suggested a formal gathering to enhance the exchange of information, to discuss problem spectra, to solicit expertise from industry and academia, and to develop a cooperative database. The first IRUG meeting was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in March 1994. The group met most recently in February 2000 at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, the Netherlands. In 1999 the group broadened its focus by changing the name to include Raman in the title. Attendance at IRUG meetings has grown substantially over the past four years, with attendees from Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America.

At its meetings, IRUG members and invited speakers present papers on a range of topics. A primary goal of IRUG is to improve and expand the IR and Raman reference data that are generated and shared by its members. Toward this end, the development and distribution of a cooperative compilation of IR spectra relevant to cultural materials is being undertaken. Although one focus of the group has always been the development of the IR spectral database, no standard guidelines were originally set for ensuring spectral quality and reliability. A decision was subsequently made to develop a standardized protocol for complete reediting of the database, as well as to establish guidelines for future spectral submissions. This work was primarily accomplished in May 1999, when 15 volunteer editors from IRUG met at the Instituto di Ricerca sulle Onde Elettromagnetiche in Florence, Italy, for a comprehensive review of the database. After the completion of the editing, the 2000 edition, containing 1,250 spectra, was sent to all contributing institutions.

IRUG membership is open to individuals who use—and who maintain a serious interest in—IR or Raman spectroscopy for the technical analysis of cultural property. While most members are conservation scientists, the group also includes conservators and conservation students, as well as individuals from academia and industry.

Current committee chairpersons Boris Pretzel of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Beth Price of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Janice Carlson of the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, can be contacted for further information regarding membership (additional information can be accessed through the IRUG.org Web site). Herant Khanjian is the GCI's representative on the steering committee.