Biotech Scientists and Curators Join Forces to Prevent Decay of the World's Art

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Image via S Gallery

With climate change still on the rise and a worldwide financial crisis still in full swing, a perfect storm is brewing that could claim a victim few could've expected: the world's art and cultural heritage sites. More extreme weather conditions and less funding for the arts means much of the world's most important art and most cherished monuments go unprotected. Luckily, expert biotechnology scientists and renowned curators have teamed up to stem the increasing decay of the world's art.A 4-day UN-affiliated conference between biotech scientists and art curators is kicking off this Monday in Caracas, Venezuela, and they'll be discussing how best to use the most advanced biotechnology available to preserve the world's art.

Jose-Luis Ramirez, the Director of the United Nations University's Programme for Biotechnology for Latin America and the Caribbean, says, "Storing and protecting entire collections safely has become a priority and scientists have a key role: developing techniques and procedures that are fundamental to heritage conservation."

Why Scientists Must Help Protect Art
As global warming advances, and weather grows more severe, much art is put at risk. According to the United Nations University,

Many of the world's cultural treasures are creations made of organic materials such as paper, canvas, wood and leather which, in prolonged warmth and dampness, attract mold, micro-organisms and insects, causing decay and disintegration.

Fighting Fungus With Microorganisms
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Biotech scientists have been uncovering innovative, effective ways to combat the growing threats to art. One such method to be discussed: (From the UN University):

New biotechnology techniques to be described include the use of micro-organisms to remove fungus and other problems on artwork, photos, documents, masonry and more.

Art-Saving Biotech in Action
Though the relationship between scientists and curators is growing stronger at a rapid clip, cooperation between the two fields is nothing new. One Italian art professor will discuss his successful "use of micro-organisms instead of chemicals to remove from masonry troublesome black crusts, nitrates, sulphates and other alterations, as well as unwanted animal glue from painted frescos in Pisa."

Another will advocate "the use of micro-organisms as biosensors to forewarn curators of potential risks to art objects from such threats as pollution and dust levels . . . fungi and bacteria can be harnessed to warn of significant environmental fluctuations and the impact of too many visitors."

Thanks to biotechnology, the art of safeguarding, well, art, is becoming a much more precise science.

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