Elin Figueiredo, InArt'13 - 1st International Conference on Innovation in Art Research and Technology, e-conservation Journal 1, 2013, pp. 10-12
Available online 22 November 2013
doi: 10.18236/econs1.201303

1st International Conference on Innovation in Art Research and Technology

Review by Elin Figueiredo

July 9-13, 2013
Évora, Portugal

Organised by:
Hercules Laboratory (University of Évora); REQUIMTE (FCT, New University of Lisbon); CENIMAT/I3N (FCT, New University of Lisbon); Instituto Superior Técnico (Technical University of Lisbon); Centro de Física Atómica (University of Lisbon); Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania

The 1st International Conference on Innovation in Art Research and Technology, InART’13, was held from 9 to 13 July 2013 in Évora, Portugal. It was hosted by the Hercules Laboratory, a centre dedicated to the study, conservation and valorisation of cultural heritage. The conference took place at the auditorium of the University of Évora, in the historical centre of the city.

According to the conference, its main aim was to “create a platform of knowledge sharing between different fields of science and technology with a particular accent on Innovations from Surface, Nano and Environmental sciences applied to the characterization, conservation and valorisation of cultural heritage in Europe and around the world”. An important aspect of the conference was thus to highlight the high number of recent innovations that have been brought to the study, conservation and restoration of Cultural Heritage. The conference had a large attendance, with 46 oral presentations, of which nine were by invited speakers, and more than 70 poster presentations.

The conference was attended by researches of various backgrounds, by both students and recognized specialists, making it of interesting cross-views. Researchers from numerous European countries were present, as well as from North and South America and Asia.

The sessions were organized under topics that tried to reflect the dynamic flow of knowledge, experimentation and interdisciplinary contacts among the diverse fields involved around conservation issues. Topics such as conservation science from industry to the lab, or from the lab to the field, or even nano-tools and materials for the scientific conservation were some of the topics chosen for the 6 different sessions.

The oral and poster presentations covered a wide spectrum of studies on cultural heritage, from materials characterisation at a macro, micro or nano point of view, to conservation strategies using recently developed materials and techniques.
There was a very high number of oral and poster presentation of very high scientific quality and with innovative ideas and experimental approaches. Given their high number, only some few oral presentations that I found particularly interesting due to their novel or pertinent approaches for the conservation, restoration and study of Cultural Heritage will be mentioned here.

General view of the conference room.
P. Calicchia during her presentation on the application of acoustic imaging ACEADD technique to frescoes.
View the embedded image gallery online at:

The presentation made by Piero Baglioni and collaborators from the University of Florence showed outstanding conservation approaches, with numerous examples of applications using nanoparticles, microemulsions and chemical/ physical gels for the consolidation and cleaning of works of art as, for example, smart gels, using highly retentive hydrogels for water-based cleaning systems in water-sensitive artefacts. Besides the presentation of the more theoretical part behind the synthesis and development of the materials and systems, real practical examples of application were exposed for consolidation of wall paintings, cleaning of pictorial surfaces and manuscripts, with impressive results.

The presentation given by Helmut Meyer (THM-nano, Germany) and collaborators showed how the specific properties of carbon nanotubes can be used for the developing of conservation devices, such as a mobile accurate thermo-electrical mild heating device, that has been developed in the framework of IMAT project, and seems to show great advantages among conservation and restoration practical works. 

A. Cardoso talking about the Syddarta project (SYstem for Digitization and Diagnosis in ART Applications).
Poster session.
View the embedded image gallery online at:


The presentation given by R. Van Grieken (University of Antwerp) and collaborators about preventive conservation did show a detailed study on air quality at the Alhambra Palace (South of Spain), where it was exposed the difficulty of balancing the presence of a high number of tourists and traffic in the nearby city, with implications in indoor and outdoor air quality of the monument, with the local authorities willing to promote the easy access to the monument by improving car accesses  in a near future, with implications in the future conservation of the monument and works of art. This example does strike us to the relatively recurrent benefits and problems that arise by allowing monuments and works of art to be visited and viewed by a high number of people, i.e. local economical benefits and cultural promotion vs. accelerated degradation of cultural heritage.

Also, there was an interesting presentation made by historians from the University of Évora about the virtual reconstruction of the Lisbon city before the 1755 earthquake. It showed how lost heritage can be studied and “reconstructed” to allow an easy assess to general public, tourists, but also researchers and students, providing a genuine learning of the mutations that a city/ historical place can be subjected to along time. In a less materialistic way, this can also be seen as a way of studying and preserving cultural heritage.

Additionally, during the 4 days of conference there were also many organized visits to local and nearby historical places. A guided visit was made to the local Museu of Évora, which has collections from pre-historical to modern times, and also incorporates a conservation and restoration laboratory. A tour visit was made to the nearby Estremoz quarries, where marble of excellent quality has been taken since early times, to the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, an impressive and well preserve Palace from the late royal family in Portugal, and to Monsaraz, a small medieval village type located at a hill top with an impressive view over the Alqueva dam.

Finally, one can state that the conference did highly succeed in providing an excellent state of the art of the latest innovations into the field of conservation and restoration, by joining diverse specialists from both research and industry, and from the nanotechnology, measurement technology and multimedia fields.

Elin Figueiredo
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