Portrait of Alison Murray

Alison Murray

Associate Professor, Conservation Science

Department of Art History and Art Conservation

People Directory Affiliation Category

Research Interests

Alison Murray is conducting a research program into the materials science and conservation applied to cultural heritage, including paintings, modern materials, and archaeological objects. Her research integrates information from mechanical testing data, chemical analysis, and surface analysis, with the goal of quantifying changes brought about by the cleaning process, ageing, and environmental conditions.  At this time, Alison is collaborating with an international research group, studying metal ion migration mechanisms in oil painted surfaces.  Another area of research is improving the teaching of science to art conservation students.  For these different projects, she has worked with students from a variety of disciplines including conservation, conservation science, art history, the sciences and engineering.  Alison is also co-editing two volumes, Failure Mechanisms in Picasso's Paintings, a Springer Nature Applied Sciences publication and Diagnosis – Before, During, After, Volume II of the series Conservation 360º.


Alison received her honours B.Sc. in Chemistry from McGill University and her M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She specialized in Conservation Science, offered in a joint program between Hopkins and the Smithsonian Institution.  She is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation.

Courses Taught

  • ARTC 802- Properties of Materials
  • ARTC 804 - Scientific Methods for the Conservator
  • ARTC 808 - Instrumental Methods of Analysis
  • ARTC 898 - Research Project

Recent Publications

A. Murray and K. Biggs, “Science in the Art Conservation Curriculum II:  Views of Conservators,” In Transcending Boundaries:  Integrated Approaches to Conservation.  International Council of Museums-Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) 19th Triennial Conference Preprints, Beijing, 17-21 May, 2021, ed. J. Bridgland. (Paris: International Council of Museums, paper accepted).

Fuster-López, L., F. C. Izzo, C.K Andersen, A.Murray, A. Vila, M. Picollo, L. Stefani, R. Jimenez, E. Aguado-Guardiola, “Picasso’s 1917 paint materials and their influence on the condition of four paintings,” in Springer Nature Applied Sciences Journal: Topical Collection “Failure Mechanisms in Picasso's Paintings” (Switzerland:  Springer Nature, 2020).

Vila, A., A. Murray, C.K. Andersen, F.C. Izzo, L. Fuster-Lopez, E. Aguado-Guardiola, R. Jimenez-Garnica, and A. Scharff, “Picasso 1917: An Insight into the Effects of Ground and Canvas in the Failure Mechanisms in Four Artworks,” Conservation of Modern Oil Paintings, K.J. van den Berg et al. (eds.) from Cleaning Modern Oil Paints (CMOP), Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 23-25, 2018;  (Switzerland:  Springer Nature, 2019) 245-253.

Murray, A., A. Anastassiades, and R. Hill, “Science in the Art Conservation Curriculum: Determining Threshold Concepts and Strategies for Teaching and Learning,” in ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints, Copenhagen, 4–8 September 2017, ed. J. Bridgland, art, 0307 (Paris: International Council of Museums, 2017).

Murray, Alison and Amandina Anastassiades, "Conservation Science," entry in the Society for Archaeological Sciences (SAS) Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences, Wiley, 2017.

Murray, Alison, “Conservation Science and Paintings,” in Brandi MacDonald and Nenagh Hathaway (eds.), The Unvarnished Truth: Art and Science, Hamilton, ON, (McMaster Museum of Art), 2016.