How Sniffing Priceless Art and Artifacts Could Save Them

Art and cultural heritage conservators are getting an assist from some smelly chemistry. Don’t forget to subscribe for all the latest Speaking of Chemistry videos: http://bit.ly/ACSReactions

Come closer, lean in, and… inhale deeply. Some of our most valuable heritage objects—think old books, early film, and vintage plastic jewelry—have their own personal pong. But there’s more to their musk than nostalgia alone. Sarah Everts explains why conservators are starting to sniff out the compounds emitted by museum art and artifacts.

If this episode leaves you wishing for a stronger whiff of smelly museum masterpieces, check out these great resources.

Preserving Plastic Art | C&EN

Deteriorating Plastic Art Threatens Museum Treasures | C&EN

Old chemistry books and the chemistry of old books | C&EN

Heritage Smells | The Science & Heritage Programme

We’d also like to thank Yvonne Shashoua of the National Museum of Denmark for the crash test dummy and corroded knife images.

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