Cultural Heritage Research

The research is focused on structure and properties of historic building and artistic materials, mechanisms of their deterioration, and measures to conserve and protect them. Special emphasis is laid on phenomena occurring at the material surfaces and direct tracing of physical change in historic materials using non-destructive methods. The basic research is linked to extensive case studies and practical conservation work.


MAIN RESEARCH TOPICS AND METHODS

  • monitoring of microclimate parameters in historic buildings and museums: air and surface temperature, relative humidity, intensity of light and UV radiation, ventilation rate and air flows, as well as flows and deposition of suspended particulate matter,
  • determining experimentally properties of the materials necessary for modelling their temperature and moisture response: sorption of water vapour, moisture related swelling and shrinkage, water vapour diffusion and surface emission coefficients, tensile properties, and vulnerability of materials to fatigue failure,
  • time-dependent analysis of the response of cultural objects to variations in microclimate parameters, with the use of the finite element method to model water vapour movement and the resulting strain and stress fields across objects,
  • direct tracing of climate-induced physical damage as an objective assessment tool of safety of objects of art in their real-world environments, with the use of acoustic and optical methods,
  • manufacturing and use in the conservation practice of Roman cements, the key materials applied to decorate buildings facades in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS

  • development and implementation into the conservation practice of innovative systems of localised heating in historic churches, inducing minimal disturbance of the microclimate in the environment of historic objects and furnishings, cooperation in the development of European standard EN 15759:2011 Conservation of Cultural Property - Indoor Climate - Part 1: Guidelines for heating churches, chapels and other places of worship,
  • establishing allowable amplitudes of fluctuations of microclimate parameters in the environment of polychrome wood by determining the detailed damage mechanism, cooperation in the development of European standard EN 15757:2010 Conservation of Cultural Property - Specifications for temperature and relative humidity to limit climate-induced damage in organic hygroscopic materials,
  • development of energy-efficient strategies for climate control in museum buildings maintaining high standards of safe collection care,
  • development of manufacturing technology and determining properties of Roman cements, by elucidating the reaction of calcium silicate and calcium aluminosilicates during calcination of marls, determining the hydration mechanism of cements and explaining the mechanism of shrinkage cracking in Roman cement pastes and mortars,
  • applying the acoustic emission method, that is monitoring the elastic energy released as sound waves during fracture processes in materials, for direct tracing in situ damage development in wooden cultural objects, such as furniture and elements of furnishings in churches, commercial implementation of the developed prototype of an acoustic emission sensor for direct monitoring of safety of the historic objects,
  • applying digital speckle pattern interferometry (DSPI) for diagnosing the condition of painted surfaces also in situ in museums and historic churches, through analysis of sound-induced vibration of the investigated surface, making possible the detection of cracks and delaminated parts, visualization of the spatial distribution of surface vibration to present optimally results of the analysis to conservators and curators.

Digital Speckle Pattern Interferometry (DSPI) system used to diagnose damage areas in the paint layer of the altarpiece in the church in Hedalen, Norway - the investigated field is illuminated by a laser beam.

Scanning the surface of ‘Christ blessing the children’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the collection of Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow. The 3D laser scanner mapped the painting’s surface with sub-millimeter precision.

Re-established production of Roman cements enabled a model conservation of the façade of the former Trade Academy in Krakow, built 1904-1906.

A laser dust sensor monitors concentration of the suspended particulate matter in the interior of the 15th-century wooden church of St. Bartholomew the Apostle in Krakow.

Monitoring of acoustic emission to trace climate-induced crack propagation in an eighteenth century wardrobe displayed in the Gallery of Decorative Art in the National Museum in Krakow.