The SPSG Scientific Laboratory investigates the material characteristics of art objects to gain information necessary for their preservation, care, and art historical interpretation. Its interdisciplinary work spans the areas of science, art history, and conservation.
All types of art objects from the Prussian royal palaces are examined in the laboratory, which analyzes materials and the effects of aging and damage; carries out (approximate) age determinations; and performs technological studies, with the findings going toward developing appropriate methods of conservation and restoration. Staff at the laboratory also address art historical issues, for example, clarifying provenance and authenticity and doing detailed research on the working techniques of individual artists.
The laboratory specializes in analyzing the pigments and dyes in paintings, graphics, painted objects, and textiles, and does related historical and technological research of the materials used – particularly in Prussia. Work in this area carried out in recent years has included detailed investigations of 18th century French paintings (Antoine Watteau and His Circle), early German paintings (Lucas Cranach and His Workshop), the painted furniture of Gérard Dagly, and Frederician Silks.
The scientific examination of works of art requires the use of nondestructive and minimally destructive techniques, including optical microscopy, X-ray florescence analysis, Raman spectroscopy, optical spectroscopy, and liquid chromatography methods.