“Già chiamano in aiuto la chimica…” Restoration from bottega to scientific laboratory and site practice

The conference is organized by the University of Florence, the Politecnico di Milano, the Alma Mater Studiorum/University of Bologna, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. The focus is to explore the beginnings of the discipline of conservation/restoration on a scientific base.
On the basis of the positivist approach to the research, typical of the 1920s and 1930s, many scientific restoration laboratories were born in that period, among all for exemple the Research Laboratory at the British Museum, the Straus Conservation Center at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge (Mass.), The Rathgen-Forschungslabor in Berlin, the Laboratoire pour l’étude scientifique des peintures at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Gabinetto di pinacologia e restauro di Napoli and the Gabinetto Restauri in Florence.
The first International Conference for the Study of Scientific Methods in the Examination and Conservation of Artworks, held in Rome in 1930, and the following Athens Conference were instrumental in the spreading of a new scientific attitude toward the artworks and the architecture. A new culture of the scientific research applied to the artworks began to settle in Europe and in the U.S. In Italy the institutional climax happened in 1939 when in Rome was founded the Central Institute of Restoration (Istituto Centrale per il Restauro), under the direction of Cesare Brandi, in a logic of centralizing (and diminishing) all the similar laboratories in Italy. Not to mention that these were also the years of the international survey on the training of the restorers, the years of the 1938 Superintendents’ conference and of the introduction of the Italian national legislation on the care, which would have allowed the definitive overcoming of the perspective of the legislation of the pre-unification states. The diversified actions carried out in view of the protection of the Italian historical and artistic heritage from the 1930s onwards, and the individual characters who embodied the concept of “safeguard”, shaped the roots of the Italian culture of restoration.
In this frame set, one of the major protagonists in the field of conservation of architectural heritage was Piero Sanpaolesi, who had been a member of the above mentioned Restoration Department of the Florence Belle Arti Soprintendenza (Gabinetto Restauri), established in 1932 by Ugo Procacci.  This institution would become the identity core, together with the medicean 'Opificio delle Pietre Dure', of the modern institute of the same name, one of the most important conservation institutions in the world. 
The history of all the previously mentioned institutions and the 1920s and 1930s international experiences have been recently investigated, nonetheless a comparative and interdisciplinary survey is necessary to establish a comparisons between the field of architecture and artworks restoration, about their approach to the scientific analyses and how they use their results. A more articulated picture of the discipline and a more in-depth definition of the critical contributions of some of the protagonists is required. Specifically, a greater emphasis is required over those interdisciplinary approaches which give value to the material history of artworks over time, joint with art and architecture history.
The study days aim to stimulate a new consideration on restoration as a process of knowledge beginning from the scientific analysis of the artwork, and involving its material, technical and conservation aspects. The conference, based on papers selected through the present call for papers, will be held at the DIDA (Department of Architecture) of the University of Florence on 15 and 16 December 2023.
A book of proceedings will be issued in the «Restauro Archeologico» journal, edited by Firenze University Press, which has been rated as "Class A" by Anvur (the Italian rating agency for scientific journals) using the VQR (Research Quality Evaluation) system. The presenters are allowed to speak in Italian, English and French. No simultaneous translation/chuchotage will be provided for the lectures during the conference. Presenters are warmly encouraged to use the English language in the slides of their power point presentations.


0. Preludes

1. Scientific laboratories, technical instruments and analyses

2. From the historical perspective:

     the regional laboratories and the protagonists

3. The birth of the bodies responsible for the safeguard and legislation of historical and artistic heritage

4. Lexicon, handbooks and scientific glossaries

5. Museology and heritage conservation.
     The role of art historians and museum curators

6. Publications, journals and conference proceedings

7. Collaboration between science, art history and restoration

8. The role of the universities; the education and the training system

9. The restoration site as a laboratory of knowledge:
     case studies in a comparative perspective

10. The interdisciplinarity of processes:
        the relationship between restoration and the scientific laboratory


Abstract submission for the Conference 2023 is open until July 9, 2023.

An exhaustive preliminary abstract is required (in Italian, French or English). The abstract (not exceeding 2000 characters, spaces included) should include:

Title, Name/s of the author/s, affiliation, email address of the corresponding author; keywords (3 to 5), and the “code” identifying the contribution (i.e., the number identifying the topics above mentioned in the program of the Conference).

Names and contact details of all authors must be submitted together with the abstract.

The following sections are required: Background, Methods, Results, Conclusion. The abstract should not contain any reference, table, illustration or graphic.

Abstracts and contributions must follow the templates provided by the conference organization, available on the web site

The abstract must be sent in PDF format to: gabinettiscientifici[AT]

The file must be named as follows: Surname of the corresponding author, Initial of given name, underscore, topics number (1, 2, 3...). (e.g.: RossiA_2.pdf.).

Changes in abstracts cannot be made after submission.

The abstracts will be examined by the Scientific Committee of the conference.

By July 17, 2023, the papers acceptance will be communicated to those who have submitted the abstracts. The authors of the selected scientific contributions are due to send the extended text by September 10, 2023.

Every paper will be peer-reviewed/double blind revied. The reviewers will be appointed by the Scientific and Executive Committees.

The Executive Committee has the faculty to ask the authors to make any changes/ integrations suggested by the referees.


Abstract-template ENG

Abstract-template ITA

Abstract-template FRA


Editorial Rules

Norme Editoriali | Editorial rules IT-ENG-FR

Template full paper

Template full paper


July 9, 2023: deadline of abstracts submission

July 17, 2023: communication of the selected abstracts

September 10, 2023: deadline of the final texts 

September 20, 2023: communication to the authors of the peer reviews outcome

September 30, 2023: deadline for the final texts

December 2023: proceedings in print


Conference registration fee: € 200

Reduced fee for PhD students/Master degree students/ School of Specialization students: € 120

Reduced fee for ICOMOS/SIRA members: € 180



phone: +39 (0)55 275 5466



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