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XRF Workshop Held
An exercise during the CAPS workshop

In November 2016 the Getty Conservation Institute and the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, together with the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), presented the third jointly organized XRF (X-ray fluorescence) Boot Camp for Conservators at SRAL and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

During the four-day workshop, eighteen participants representing ten countries gained in-depth training in the principles of XRF spectroscopy and practical instruction on the collection and interpretation of data, focusing primarily on qualitative analysis and the use of handheld instrumentation. Interactive lectures were paired with laboratory activities involving hands-on instrument use, data processing, and interpretation. In addition, for this year’s workshop instrument representatives from Bruker, Niton, and XGLab were on hand to assist participants with questions specific to the different models of portable XRF units used.

The application of XRF to the study of core material groups in cultural heritage collections was emphasized throughout the workshop and illustrated with examples from ongoing projects at SRAL and the Bonnefantenmuseum collections. The analysis of painted surfaces was highlighted, focusing on the common challenges faced by conservators of paintings, objects, and works on paper when dealing with multilayer coatings on a variety of substrates. In addition, recent advances in XRF instrumentation and techniques applied to the study of cultural heritage, including scanning macro-XRF, were discussed. On the last day, the participants, who had worked in pairs from the beginning of the workshop, presented the results of their analysis, and a group discussion with the instructors followed.

The XRF Boot Camp is part of the GCI’s Research into Practice Initiative, which develops educational activities and resources to facilitate the practical application of new scientific research to conservation problems.