Diagnostic Science Laboratories

DSL

The application of science and technology are essential for the identification and understanding of the materials from which artefacts are made, as well as for the causes and prevention of deterioration. The significance and role scientists play within an interdisciplinary team is an important concept in this field.

The Diagnostic Science Laboratories’ primary aim is to develop and promote appropriate solutions to the conservation problems of objects, art, architecture, archaeological sites and monuments. Staff members carry out scientific research to ensure the protection of our collections through the application of recent scientific knowledge in accordance with international practices. Scientists provide essential information to conservators about deterioration causes and principal factors influencing the damage mechanisms, which in turn helps to guide the conservator to choose a compatible treatment option. They also conduct investigations to determine the composition of materials, manufacturing techniques, authentication and provenance assessments that can contribute to the scholarly interpretation of art and artefacts from the past. The state-of-the-art setup housed at the Diagnostic Science Laboratories consists of several technologies which include scanning electron microscopy, X-ray imaging, diffraction and micro-fluorescence analytical systems, Infrared technology, scientific photographic techniques as well as non-invasive portable systems. In line with providing solutions to the questions posed to it, the Diagnostic Science Laboratories also have an expanded national and international arm of laboratories and consultants for those techniques not available inhouse, thus optimising its analytical application power.

A Preventive Conservation unit is also housed within the laboratories and is dedicated to environmental monitoring and preventive conservation strategies, including that related to lighting level control and integrated pest management. This section addresses the preservation concerns of a vast amount of cultural heritage materials under the care of Heritage Malta and to reduce the risks of damage and deterioration to our cultural treasures.
Stemming from its national responsibility and expertise, the Diagnostic Science Laboratories are also involved in consultancy, education, lecturing and academic research supervision.
The Diagnostic Science Laboratories’ setup is also available for private clients, both cultural heritage-related and in industry.

 dsl@heritagemalta.org

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