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Science & Art

The Northwestern University Materials Research Center (MRC) continues its pioneering efforts of introducing Art Preservation as part of Center research and creating an innovative, broad-impact program in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. Starting in 2013, the NU-MRSEC’s pioneering efforts in the science of arts preservation is further recognized via the expansion of this two-way collaborative model through the creation and leadership of a new Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The goals of the Center would be threefold: to conduct object-based and object-inspired research devoted to problems of interest to museums/cultural institutions through museum-university collaborations; to extend research opportunities to museums/cultural institutions nationally and internationally beyond the Art Institute of Chicago; and to foster awareness and exchange between scientists and engineers in the academic community and among conservators, curators and conservation scientists in cultural institutions. This is the first initiative of its kind in the U.S., where scientific research on cultural heritage objects is more typically conducted within the boundaries of a specific museum or cultural institution. NU-ACCESS, by extending its reach beyond Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago, is a new model of collaborative scientific research in the arts, providing expanded access to scientific expertise in a centralized and highly specialized facility devoted to the pursuit of art-historical and conservation questions of great value to conservation science and academic communities.  Learn More.

Leveraging its leadership in research and education at the intersection of science and art, MRC launches the Computationally-Based Imaging of Structure in Materials (CuBISM) program, focusing on art as a catalyst for the development of innovative and holistic approaches for the development of innovative and holistic approaches to change over time in complex materials systems.  Through computationally based imaging of structure in materials used to create works of art, the central challenge is to tie the visual appearance of painted surfaces to the underlying molecular and microscopic material structures, and to use correlation to intestate materials properties. Learn More.