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Colloquium: Art and Science: Uncovering the Gem Within Artworks

Event Details:

  • Date:       Thursday 12 April 2018
  • Time:      16:00 - 17:00
  • Venue:    The Cyprus Institute – NTL Events Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Dr Michel Menu, Head of Research,Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF)
* The colloquium will be in English, the event is open to the public, light refreshments will be served after the talk.


Physico-chemistry is a gateway to uncover the gems hidden within artworks. The C2RMF laboratory has the responsibility to answer questions put forth by the 1200 French museums regarding the authentication, attribution and conservation of their works of art. The laboratory implements cutting edge methods to examine and analyze, down to the nanometric scale, the matter art objects are made of. Among the different analytical methods, the C2RMF possesses and develops a 2-MV particle accelerator analytical system called AGLAE, to carry out non-invasive, total elemental analysis of precious museum objects. Thanks to analytical data banks, the amounts and combinations of elements an object or part of an object contains can serve as a distinctive fingerprint hinting, for example, at where minerals were mined or when an item was made.

The C2RMF laboratory also develops multispectral imaging for painting examination; it has recently built a 2D XRF system, which enables to create elemental images of paintings with a resolution less than 0.5 mm. I shall present some recent results obtained on several paintings during their conservation in the C2RMF studios.

About the Speaker

Michel Menu got his PhD in physics/optics in 1978 from The University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 6 and a habilitation in Physics in 1992 from the University Paris-Sud-Saclay, Paris 11.

Head of the the Research Department (laboratory) of the C2RMF with 45 permanent researchers and technicians: art historians, physicists, chemists, radiologist, image specialists..., with in addition 15 non permanents (post-docs, PhD students, ...). He is co-leader (with Didier Gourier, Professeur Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie Paris) of the team Physico-Chimie des Matériaux Témoins de l’Histoire (PCMTH) inside the CNRS unit (UMR 8247: Institut de Recherche de Chimie Paris, IRCP).

His research activities concern the study of the colour of art worksand develops new methodologies in order to analyse colour and appearance attributes on paintings in a non-invasive way in collaboration with Rijks Conservatie Erfolg, Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery London, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Metropolitan Museum, NY,  etc.

He was associated until February 2013 with STARC, appointed by CyI as an expert in order to develop the analytical laboratory, and he is now member of the STARC Scientific Expert Panel.

image article

X-ray fluorescence analysis of the Belle Ferronnière, Leonardo da Vinci, INV. 778, Louvre Museum ©C2RMF/Philippe Dureuil


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Additional Info

  • Date: Thursday 12 April 2018
  • Time: Starts 16:00
  • Speaker: Dr Michel Menu
  • Speaker Position: Head of Research, Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF)