Conference: Science and engineering for cultural heritage and conservation

This free conference provides a forum for researchers, students and staff at Imperial College London and cultural heritage organisations in London to meet, explore current challenges, showcase tools/techniques, and build collaborations to solve problems. 

When and Where

Wednesday 20 September 09.30-17.30

City and Guilds Building, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, SW7 2AZ


The conference is hosted by the network of excellence for Science and Engineering Research for Cultural Heritage, which is supported by the Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.   

Attendee eligibility

Researchers, students and staff at Imperial College London and cultural heritage professionals in London.

Structure for the day

  •  09.30-10.00 Registration, coffee, and networking
  • 10.00-10.05 Opening remarks by Professor Ambrose Taylor, Imperial College London
  • 10.05-10.35 Dr Naomi Luxford, Conservations Scientist, English Heritage, Collections Conservation “Environmental monitoring and control at English Heritage”
  • 10.35-11.35 Contributed Talks
    • Dr Michaela Botticelli, University of Glasgow “External reflection micro-FTIR applied to Company painting on the micro-scale: investigating the technique of Indian artists in 19th-century ‘mughaleries’”.
    • Neil Wilkinson, Natural History Museum & Brunel University “Analysis of the Lycurgus Cup – Revisited. A fresh insight into its composition using current Analytical Instrumentation”
    • Dr Michael Paraskos, Imperial College London “Why art history should matter”.
  • 11.35-12.00 Coffee and networking
  • 12.00-13.00 Contributed Talks
    • Dr Valentina Risdonne, V&A “Technical examination of the Forster Codices II and III by Leonardo da Vinci”
    • Dr Thierry Ford, The National Museum of Art, Norway, “Revisiting the surface, Edvard Munch and varnishes: A group case study and non-invasive approach to conservation decision-making for painting collections”.
    • Guan-Lin Liu, Imperial College London, “ATR-FTIR spectroscopic imaging of white crusts in cross sections from oil cartoons by Edward Poynter in the Heritage Collections at UK Parliament”
  • 13.00-14.00 Lunch and networking
  • 14.00-14.30 Dr Joanne Dunster, Head of (Research) Infrastructure, Arts and Humanities Research Council, UKRI “Q&A on funding opportunities for heritage science and conservation research from the AHRC”
  • 14.30-15.30 Contributed Talks
    • Hannah Gibbs, UCL, “Can innovative digital tools more accurately record Indigenous cultural landscapes?”
    • Dr Giovanna Vasco, The British Museum, “Seeing History in the Making: Preliminary Scientific Imaging applied to investigate the materiality of the Vindolanda wooden writing tablets”
    • Dr Wren Montgomery, Natural History Museum, “The preservation of English Oak in marine environments”
  • 15.30-16.00 Coffee and networking
  • 16.00-16.30 Dr Susan Mossman, Chair of Plastics Historical Society, Materials Science Specialist and Research Associate, Science Museum, “Sustainable polymers – are they really what they seem?”
  • 16.30-17.30 Drinks and networking


Dr Susan Mossman, Chair of Plastics Historical Society., Materials Science Specialist and Research Associate, Science Museum

“Sustainable polymers – are they really what they seem?”


Dr Susan Mossman has specialised in the history and preservation of plastics, with additional research interests in materials science, archaeometallurgy and museological studies. Her professional career had been spent at the Science Museum in London UK, as a curator, project leader and now as an honorary research associate. Her publications include Early Plastics: perspectives 1850 to 1950 and Fantastic Plastics and she was lead curator of the Plasticity exhibition at the Science Museum. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and chairs the Plastics Historical Society

Dr Naomi Luxford, Conservations Scientist, English Heritage, Collections Conservation

“Environmental monitoring and control at English Heritage”


Dr Naomi Luxford is a Conservation Scientist working at English Heritage, current research projects include environmental control within collections stores, the suitability of underfloor heating within historic houses, and the use of mesh blinds in historic properties. Previous research has looked at the use of UVC for cleaning mould on architectural stonework, understanding Daguerreotype environmental sensitivity as well as a wide range of objects including silver, textiles and furniture. Her primary interests are in Preventive Conservation, Conservation Science and Conservation Research focussing on the building, its environment and collections, and understanding their interactions to improve preservation. She has taught at City & Guilds of London Art School, West Dean College, UCL and the Royal College of Art.

Call for contributions 

We invite contributions on any aspect of the application of science and engineering tools, knowledge, practices and techniques to cultural heritage objects and goals. We are particularly interested in current challenges/problems, both with and without a solution, and new tools for which the application is not yet clear.  

Sample topics:  

  • 3D printing in cultural heritage 
  • Understanding long term material degradation in cultural heritage objects 
  • Climate-proofing museums and galleries 
  • Machine learning/AI in cultural heritage 
  • Archiving prototypes from Imperial’s STEM research 
  • Imaging of materials of cultural heritage collections  
  • Using simulation (e.g. physical, virtual reality) for sharing existing and exploring new techniques of conservation 
  • Working with materials on the verge of collapse – challenges and opportunities 
  • Risk, error and recovery in the cultural heritage world 


Staff or student at Imperial College London or any cultural heritage organisation in London. We welcome submissions from technicians and other professional services staff in addition to researchers.   


  • poster (A0 or A1) 
  • demonstration/interactive group activity (30 minutes/1 hour) 

Abstract: 300 words maximum 

Please submit an abstract via the online form.

About Science and Engineering Research for Cultural Heritage

A Network of Excellence connecting scientists & engineers with conservators & heritage professionals to find solutions to cultural heritage problems. The artworks, artefacts and structures inherited from the past have a powerful impact on our society, so the conservation of our cultural heritage is fundamental for future generations. This shared cultural heritage requires intervention to stabilise and prevent further degradation of often unique artefacts. This degradation results from use, ageing, unpredicted events, environmental conditions, and poorly chosen previous restoration treatments whose details are often unknown. Scientists and engineers can assist greatly by identifying the changes in the materials, the mechanisms of degradation, and predicting how the object will respond to conservation and display. This knowledge enables conservators to make informed choices about suitable treatments, so the conservation of cultural heritage is truly interdisciplinary.

About The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering

The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) is one of Imperial College London’s Global Institutes, drawing on the strength of its four faculties to address some of the grand challenges facing the world today. The Institute’s activities are focused on tackling problems where molecular innovation plays an important role.

If you have any questions about accessibility requirements please email Leah Adamson (IMSE Events and Communications Manager) on

Getting here

Registration is now closed. Add event to calendar
See all events