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Revolutionizing art conservation at Queen's

A $1 million donation from the Jarislowsky Foundation allows Queen’s to acquire leading-edge technology that will be the only of its kind in Canada.

A $1-million gift from The Jarislowsky Foundation will bring leading-edge technology to Canada and help to preserve some of the country’s most important works of art.  

“The donation will create opportunities for Queen’s students and researchers to better understand the materials and techniques used to create artworks and other cultural objects,” says Patricia Smithen, assistant professor (Paintings Conservation) at Queen’sThe equipment will allow us to start new research programs, establish partnerships with leading art museums and collectors, and attract top students to study at Queen’s.”    

Queen’s is purchasing five pieces of equipment, some of which is highly sought-after technology used by the world’s top art institutes such as the Getty Conservation Institute, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  

These powerful new tools will impact art historians and students in many ways, such as being able to more accurately analyze the type of materials used in works of art. This will lead to better preservation strategies. 

Queen’s will be the only museum or institute in Canada to have Bruker M6 Jetstream, a highly advanced form of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology that allows researchers to scan paintings and create an elemental map of the surface. This instrument was recently used to scan Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, allowing conservators and scientists to identify pigments and reveal the artist’s working process, including changes he made to the composition.  

In addition to the Bruker M6 Jetstream, the other equipment includes: 

  • X-radiography Suite with New Mid-range Source 225 KV, Gantry and Tracer-Fluorescence Spectroscopy Unit 

  • Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR, Portable) 

  • Foster and Freeman VSC 8000 Multispectral Document System 

  • Instron Tensile Tester 

The Jarislowsky Foundation was created by Stephen Jarislowsky, LLD’88, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and avid art collector.