Imaging Techniques in Conservation

Emma Marie Payne


New imaging techniques are increasingly being used within cultural heritage. This paper explores potential uses of such technologies within conservation and implications of their use on object preservation and accessibility. Study of their effects on objects is crucial because their employment is becoming irreplaceable; for example, polynomial texture mapping (PTM) has revealed previously undetectable surface features. In such cases, it is necessary to continue to use the technique to monitor object condition.

3D laser scanning, PTM, and CT scanning are investigated. Case studies are explored to investigate their current role in cultural heritage. The appropriateness of this role and whether it should be expanded is addressed by analysing advantages and disadvantages of the techniques, their feasibility, and risks caused to object preservation and accessibility.

The results indicate that the technologies present some advantages over standard digital photography; PTM in particular is found to be an extremely useful, affordable technique. A more established role within conservation, especially for condition assessments, could be worthwhile. Use of the imaging techniques to create models for exhibition can also be advantageous; however, care must be taken to ensure that such models are used to enhance accessibility to original objects and not to replace them.

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How to cite: Payne, E.M. 2013. Imaging Techniques in Conservation. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies 10(2):17-29, DOI:

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This article has been peer reviewed (journal peer review policy).

Published on 11 February 2013.

ISSN: 1364-0429 | Published by Ubiquity Press | Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.