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Saturday, June 2 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Textiles) Application of Multispectral Imaging in the Practice of Textile Conservation: Documentation, Investigation, and Communication

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Thanks to advances in digital imaging and its increased availability, Multispectral Imaging (MSI) is becoming a useful tool in conservation. Photography with different ranges of radiation such as IR, UV, and X-ray has been widely used in conservation. What recent development in MSI offers more of than those conventional images is based on digital imaging technique. Higher reproducibility which otherwise tends to be subjective to users and set-ups, can be attained by standardization in capturing and processing images using digital cameras and imaging programs. This consistency is critical when using visual information as analytical data. MSI requires relatively simple and inexpensive set-ups with a range of radiation sources and filters. A set of images is produced by systematically recording reflective and luminescence radiation from an object through the spectra of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light in controlled settings. Each image maps different information from the object. It has been a challenge to translate this visual information and find its applications in conservation practice. Analyzing the luminescent component of an object under UV light has been used as a non-destructive analytical technique to identify some materials. In the past, the majority of studies on analyzing visual information from MSI was done with paintings and sculptures. In this presentation, I will explore MSI of various types of samples and textiles from the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, discussing information that each spectrum provides. Based on our knowledge of conventional IR and UV images, textiles of different materials and conditions will be chosen to demonstrate information as diverse as possible provided by MSI. Images taken under UV light show a wide range of visual information including colors. Textile conservators have used UV light to detect condition issues and luminescent materials on the surface, such as dirt, stain, additives and some organic colorants. Some dyes are known for their specific luminescence under UV light and there are indications that more materials show specific patterns of luminescence. In order to have any analytical conclusions, we need sufficient information that can be comparable and communicable. I expect this imaging technique will help us to collect standardized data by recording the intensity and color information systematically. MSI has already proved to be an excellent mapping method by providing a holistic view of an object showing the distribution of certain material or condition. Depending on the user’s purpose, images of different spectra can be merged or highlighted by using false color technique which manipulates red, green, and blue components for stronger visual effects. I hope more analytical use of MSI is possible. If we can identify or even categorize materials on textiles based on visual information under certain radiation, we would be able to instantly provide necessary support for their preservation. I wish to collaborate with other conservators to create a platform where we can exchange and share information to discover MSI’s potential applications in textile conservation.

avatar for Kisook Suh

Kisook Suh

Associate Conservator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Kisook Suh is Associate Conservator in the Department of Textile Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently working on medieval tapestries of The Cloisters’ collections. Kisook has been part of varied projects at the Museum, in particular preparing textiles... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:00am - 10:30am MDT
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Textiles