Main content

The ICON Heritage Science committee are pleased to bring you a series of live streamed webinars exploring contemporary heritage science case studies and practices as part of the Conservation: Together at Home Webinar Series. We hope that these talks will help enable our community to stay connected and will allow people to continue to engage with heritage science while staying at home. 

The talks are happening every Wednesday at 4pm (BST/UK time) and will be streamed via our Zoom webinar platform. They are free to sign up to and anyone can register, you don’t have to be an ICON member to attend. We can have up to 500 people in an audience for each talk, based on first arrivals at the time of the webinar. 

If you are interested in speaking, please contact our chair, Ellie at


Past webinars 

Wednesday April 22nd, 4pm BST

Prof Eleanor Schofield, Head of Conservation and Collections Care, Mary Rose Trust

Where the arts meet science: Keeping the Mary Rose shipshape

The Mary Rose, a flagship of Henry VIII’s, sank off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545. Rediscovered in the 1960s, the following years saw the excavation of over 19,000 objects, culminating in the excavation of the hull in 1982. Materials vary from leather, wood, human remains to iron, bronze and lead, with items varying in size from minuscule dice to gun carriages capable of transporting 2-3 tonne cannons. The conservation techniques and strategies employed over the last three decades will be discussed, alongside new materials and methods being developed to ensure the long term protection of this important cultural heritage.

You can watch Ellie's webinar here


Wednesday May 6th, 4pm BST

Dr Katrien Keune, Head of Science, Rijksmuseum

Metal Soaps in Art: from first observations towards a deeper understanding

Old master paintings as well as modern and contemporary art are subjected to changes from the moment they have been made. Discoloration, increased transparency and darkening, crumbling of the paint, paint delamination and loss: these are just some of the degradation phenomena encountered on oil paintings. This presentation focusses on the wide-spread degradation phenomena that is related to pigment-oil binder interactions, which are metal soaps. Metal soap related defects are observed in paintings by amongst others Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Piet Mondrian. Approximately 70% of paintings in museum collections are affected by metal soap-related degradation phenomena.

You can watch Katrien's webinar here


Wednesday May 13th, 4pm BST

Dr Anita Quye, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science & Head of History of Art, University of Glasgow

Creating constructive pathways to aid ethical sampling decisions in scientific research for cultural heritage

In January 2019 the Icon Heritage Science Group launched new boundary-pushing ethical sampling guidance for decision-making when removing and using material from heritage objects and sites for scientific research. Underpinned by multiple perspectives and shared understanding, this guidance offers a constructive pathway from initial sampling thoughts to project end and beyond, developed from extensive national and international consultations with a range of interested parties. In this webinar, Anita takes us through the guidance and shows how it can be put into practice through personal case studies where constructive ethical thinking and discussions have helped navigate crossroads in sampling decisions.

You can watch Anita's webinar here


Wednesday May 20th, 4pm BST

Carl Heron, Director of Scientific Research, British Museum

100 years of Scientific Research at the British Museum

I’m aiming to present, in 30-40 minutes, a snapshot of 100 years of Scientific Research at the British Museum. In 1920, a small laboratory was established following an enquiry into the condition of objects, largely as a result of inadequate storage during the First World War. From this humble beginning, conservation and scientific investigation developed into the significant core activities evident in 2020. This inexhaustive and rather selective presentation will highlight some examples from the annals of the department. I will end by looking forward to the period ahead.

You can watch Carl's webinar here


Wednesday May 27th, 4pm BST

Dr Josep Grau-Bové, lecturer in the Institute for Sustainable Heritage, University College London

Using online and open apps for preventive conservation

Online apps for preventive conservation are proliferating in the web. For free and with a few clicks it is possible to analyse humidity and temperature data, estimate pollutant concentration indoors, predict dust deposition rates, and many other tasks, basic and advanced. Current research projects (such as the developments around IPERION-HS and ERIHS, the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science) will accelerate the creation of new online platforms and improve their capabilities. In this talk, I will provide an overview, with practical demonstrations, of some of the best available online tools, and present a blueprint for future developments.

You can watch Josep's webinar here


Wednesday June 3rd, 5pm BST

Hayley Simon, PhD student at the UCL Institute of Archaeology 

Corrosion and conservation of the Mary Rose cast iron cannon shot

This talk looks at the collection of 1,200+ cast iron cannon shot from the shipwreck of King Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose (c. 1545). From their formation and burial, through to their excavation, conservation and storage, this presentation will examine how the artefacts have changed over time. Using a combination of lab- and synchrotron-based analysis methods, an overview of the material and recent experiments will be given to gain new insights into the chemistry of marine iron corrosion and the impact of different conservation approaches on the reaction.

You can watch Hayley's webinar here


Wednesday June 10th, 4pm BST

Caitlin Southwick, Founder and Executive Director of Ki Culture and Sustainability in Conservation

Sustainability and Cultural Heritage: Our Past and Our Future

Sustainability is a global issue. As realities surrounding climate change and social injustice become more apparent and hit closer to home, people are ready to do something about it. But what does cultural heritage have to do with climate change? How do museums impact social justice? Why do conservators need to learn how to think green in their practice? This webinar will outline what sustainability means to cultural heritage and what unique opportunities the sector has to engage with and promote sustainability – resulting in holistic change and contributing to a sustainable future for all.

You can watch Caitlin's webinar here


Wednesday June 17th, 4pm BST

Susan Braovac, archaeological conservator in the research project Saving Oseberg at the Museum of Cultural History & Fabrizio Andriulo, post-doctoral fellow in Saving Oseberg

Applying alkaline nanoparticles to deacidify alum-treated wood

Conservation of waterlogged archaeological wood using alum salts (potassium aluminum sulfate, ammonium aluminum sulfate) was a method used in the past to treat highly degraded wood. It was used on the Viking Age wooden finds from Oseberg, recovered in 1904 near Tønsberg, Norway. Today this wood is very acidic (pH ≤ 2), mainly due to the acid absorbed during the alum treatment. High acidity has caused the wood polymers to undergo a slow degradation over time. In order to slow down degradation, the research project Saving Oseberg investigates retreatment methods for these finds. In some cases retreatment cannot undergo water-based methods. For such objects, we are currently testing alkaline nanoparticles (calcium hydroxide in isopropanol) to deacidify the wood. We present a background of the alum method, facts about calcium hydroxide nanoparticles and show ongoing practical work using these.


Wednesday June 24th, 4pm BST

Matija Strlic, Professor of Heritage Science at University College London and Professor of Analytical Chemistry at University of Ljubljana

The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS)

Much could be gained from research that is openly shared, as well as from research that is collaboratively developed. The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) will specifically promote the sharing of facilities where research is carried out – whether scientific laboratories, conservation workshops or art history research departments. Namely, investments into unique research facilities and expertise are much better justifiable if access to such facilities is open to external researchers. Many such facilities already exist and operate nationally and in order to reduce the risk of duplication, E-RIHS will be developed into a distributed infrastructure. This way, excellent facilities will pool some of their operational time to enable research to be carried out internationally and collaboratively, with lean central management. E-RIHS, including its UK node, E-RIHS.UK, is still actively developing and collaboration is actively promoted across the spectrum of heritage research.


Wednesday July 1st, 4pm BST

Paola Ricciardi, Senior Research Scientist at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

Psyche on a smartphone: shining new light on a Florentine Renaissance masterpiece

INSPIRE2020 (December 2019 - March 2020) was the first exhibition of work made by primary school children at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition resulted from a year-long project modelled on the National Gallery’s Take One Picture, which focused on the painting of Cupid and Psyche by Jacopo del Sellaio as a source of inspiration for creative cross-curricular enquiry on the part of teachers and pupils alike. Inspired by the children’s engagement with the artist’s materials and techniques, conservators and heritage scientists undertook their own technical research on the panel. Their work was integrated in the exhibition display and in a newly-developed AR app. This talk will discuss the role played by Heritage Science in the INSPIRE project, as well as the range of opportunities that truly cross-disciplinary collaboration offers for meaningful, creative engagement of the Heritage Science community with teachers, schoolchildren and museum visitors.


Wednesday July 8th, 4pm BST

National Heritage Science Forum

Building a Skilled and Diverse Heritage Science Community

One of three key themes in the Strategic Framework for Heritage Science in the UK is the development of a skilled and diverse heritage science community. Over the past year, members of the NHSF working group assembled under this theme have been scoping partners, methods, and opportunities to begin addressing this critical priority. At this joint NHSF/ICON HS meeting, we invite two speakers to discuss opening up heritage science to the public through citizen science and strategies to diversify our community. We also invite attendees to contribute ideas and comments on this theme at our timely discussion.


Wednesday July 15th, 5pm BST

Michał Łukomski, Head of Preventive Conservation Research at the Getty Conservation Institute

Monitoring micro-changes in historic objects to support strategies for indoor climate management

Responsible management of indoor environments in museums is currently in the spotlight of cultural heritage institutions worldwide. There is general consensus in the museum community that reducing energy consumption has economic, ecological, and ethical benefits. 

Since the safety of collection is the foremost priority, new climate control strategy should be scrutinized by response of objects. Recently, the GCI developed methodology employing Acoustic Emission monitoring which allows the progress of micro-fractures in objects to be directly recorded. As a consequence, AE can be used to detect physical changes in objects induced by exposure to their real-world environments and, hence, can support the assessment of adopted strategies for the museum indoor climate management.


Wednesday July 22nd, 4pm BST

Bhavesh Shah, Scientist at Victoria and Albert Museum 

Introduction to R and Data Science 

Analysing and presenting data to inform practical solutions is a challenge for any operational preventive conservator or scientist. Data science is a growing field and free data-driven tools such as R can be used to go from data to interactive reporting tools and new insights. This will be a brief, and hopefully gentle, introduction to how R can be used to analyse the types of data typically encountered for collections care.