The past, present and future of lead white in Denmark’s national graphic art collections

Niels Borring, David Buti, Birgit Vinther Hansen, Johanne Marie Nielsen, Morten Ryhl-Svendsen, Andreas Swane, Anna Vila

Publications: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


A methodical examination of the graphic collections at the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst) and Danish Royal Library (RL) has shown that circa 900 objects
from the SMK are affected by the darkening of white highlights, while up to 200 cases have been estimated to exist at the RL. Lead white was identified on all the objects studied. Artworks and housing materials from both institutions, together with a group of test samples created in the laboratory, have been examined by analytical means to better understand and locate the degradation sources. The levels of H2S in storage and galleries were also measured.In the housing materials from the SMK and RL, sulfur products were identified. Results point out that the degradation can be attributed to a combination of poor archival housing materials, outside pollutants and, in some locations, the presence of many people as well as humidity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints : Copenhagen, 4–8 September 2017
EditorsJanet Bridgland
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherICOM-CC, International Committee of Museums
Publication date4 Sep 2017
Article number0508
ISBN (Electronic)978-92-9012-426-9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2017
EventICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference: Linking Past and Future - International Council of Museums - Conservation Committee, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 4 Sep 20178 Sep 2017
Conference number: 18


ConferenceICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference
LocationInternational Council of Museums - Conservation Committee
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