The Conservation Science Laboratory of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields seeks a postdoctoral scientist as part of a new research project investigating the impact of hydroxyl radicals on art-relevant materials. The hydroxyl radical is known as Nature’s Vacuum for its role in “cleaning” Earth’s troposphere of organic gases due to its strong oxidizing potential. Although it is occasionally implicated in degradation reactions of artists’ materials, hydroxyl radicals have not been studied in depth in the cultural heritage field because of their perceived low concentration at ground level and experimental difficulties in observing the species directly. However, recent domestic air quality research has suggested hydroxyl radicals can be generated indoors through the interaction of chemical cleaners with ozone or radiation, and commercial air purifiers are now available that harness the reactivity of hydroxyl radicals to combat odors, molds, and viruses. The researcher will conduct accelerated chamber exposure tests of various artwork-relevant dyes, pigments, media, plastics, and metals while monitoring changes to color, surface chemistry, and other properties. A realistic exposure test of selected materials to a gallery equipped with a hydroxyl radical air purifying system will explore the impact of these air quality systems on artwork preservation.
In addition to the main research project, the postdoctoral scholar will conduct artwork analyses and technical studies to support conservation and exhibition programming; mentor undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the cultural heritage sector; assist in ongoing research being pursued in the laboratory; interact with donors and guests to share the lab’s work with our audiences; and participate in the development of exhibitions focused on the interface between the Arts and Sciences.
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