NHSF is asking the heritage science community to help it 'Fill the Gaps' in knowledge and understanding identified by the National Heritage Science Strategy.
In 2015 NHSF commissioned an initial review of the heritage science research that had been carried out since 2009. The resulting report ‘Filling the Gaps’ maps research listed on the Gateway to Research (i.e. funded by the UK Research Councils) to the gaps in knowledge and practice identified in “The role of science in the management of the UK's heritage”, one of the three evidence reports produced to support the development of the National Heritage Science Strategy.

NHSF is now working with the heritage science community to ‘crowd-source’ knowledge of heritage science research to further ‘fill the gaps’ in the 10 topics identified in the evidence report.

We want to identify the gaps in knowledge and practice that remain so that we can promote them to researchers and funders as opportunities to be addressed in the future. We also want to be able to share information on where to find research that has been carried out.

This survey addresses the fourth topic area ‘Understanding the material behaviour of modern materials (movable items)'

The National Heritage Science Strategy evidence report singled out modern materials as a specific sub-theme to reflect the relative lack of current understanding and research, the inherent instability of many early synthetic materials and rapid rate of deterioration, and limited number of specialists.

Particular areas of priority, for movable items (including plastics, foams, photographs, magnetic tape), are:
  • defining appropriate storage conditions
  • understanding the impacts of different cleaning regimes and improved methods of cleaning
  • investigation of new treatment methods and assessment of their long term impacts
  • standardisation of methods of condition assessment (ways to record extent and rate of deterioration) for plastics
  • improved monitoring of degradation
  • a lack of equipment/ access to equipment for identification of plastics
  • a need for better understanding of the future management and storage requirements of contemporary art, created using mixed media and non-artists materials
  • a suitable and safely removed varnish for acrylic paintings
  • methods of storage and improved understanding of the long-term stability of photographs, slides, negatives and cine film
  • the preservation of audio visual material including digital media
  • non-damaging recovery/playback methods for degraded audio visual media
  • defining ideal storage conditions for architectural drawing film
  • the conservation and long-term management of acetate and other heat set document laminates

Please add your knowledge of research that addresses any of these areas against the relevant heading on the following page. It can be published or unpublished research, completed or underway. Our only criteria is that the project started in or after 2009. You can complete the survey multiple times to add more than one piece of information against the same research area.

The areas are listed as separate survey questions with fields for  Author(s), Lead organisation, Project title etc. We have also asked for information on the funding source and approximate amount of funding for the research/projects. This information is optional but if you can add it, it will help us to build up a picture of how heritage science research has been funded in recent years, which will be particularly useful as we potentially move to a new funding environment following the outcome of the UK Referendum vote to leave the European Union.

Thank you for contributing to this project.
National Heritage Science Forum