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Materials Science at Oregon State University

Coordinating a three-year study on federally-compliant protective clear coatings for artistic metalwork

Date: Thursday, Apr 9th
Presenter: Dr. Tami Lasseter Clare, Department of Chemistry, Portland State University


The conservation and preservation professions in the USA and in Europe face the real prospect that in the near future there will be no viable clear coating systems to protect outdoor monuments, sculptures, buildings and other significant artifacts made of copper or iron alloys against corrosion and degradation. If regulations outlawing the use of solvents common to the formulation and application of such coatings are expanded in the next two or three years, the only options available may be short lived wax pastes that typically require reapplication every one to three years and contain some percentage of solvents that are also likely to be restricted.

The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate a new clear coating for metal that will be environmentally safe and long lasting, thus saving museums time and money, as well as reducing hazards for conservation staff. Over the course of this three-year project, a double-blind study of candidate coatings will be undertaken with participation of volunteer conservators who will evaluate the coatings based on qualitative parameters, such as ease of use, appearance, and workability. Concurrently, accelerated and natural weathering studies of the candidate coatings on bronze and iron (both patinated and bare) samples will be undertaken. The performance of the coatings during exposure will be analyzed using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and other scientific methods as required. In this presentation, the authors wish to share the goals of the project with the conservation community and to solicit participants in the double-blind study.