RTI and Art Conservation

Adoption of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) for museum conservation is expanding. Watch this 23-minute video sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, filmed at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (FAMSF). You will learn how CHI is deploying this new and powerful technology to help art conservators examine and document objects, design conservation treatments, and conduct technical materials research. Watch the video…

Flickr Slideshow: A Digital Conservation Training Program Case Study

View this slide show of a CHI session with the conservators at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as they capture fine-art paintings and objects from their collections.

View the slideshow

Related Publications and Links

Reflectance Transformation Imaging Conservation School Pilot Program

Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
In Partnership With the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)

Expert team at FAMSF examines priceless work on paper

Scholars, photographic experts, museum staff, and a priceless work of art on paper. Left to right: Michael Ashley,
Jorge Bachman, Victoria Binder, Debra Evans, Susan Grinols, Carla Schroer, Mark Mudge, Debra Dooley (not pictured: Marlin Lum)

This project was funded in 2009.

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to fund a pilot program in conjunction with staff at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF). The goal of the pilot program is to produce multimedia content that demonstrates how Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) can be used in the conservation of cultural heritage objects.

The “Reflectance Transformation Imaging Conservation School Pilot Program” includes the documentation and analysis of six objects from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The resulting content will include photos, RTIs, screen captures from the RTIs, written material, and video documentaries.

While producing RTIs of the museum objects, CHI will work with the FAMSF conservation staff to evaluate the RTI technology and how the images can be used to aid conservation activities. The videos will feature conservators discussing the effectiveness of RTI in conservation. The package of materials will build on and reference information CHI has already produced about RTI methodology, including capturing, processing, and viewing RTIs. All content will be reviewed throughout the production phase and in a planned focus group to be held near the end of the project.

FAMSF staff will provide the objects to be photographed, analyze the resulting RTIs, and provide feedback on the results. The FAMSF conservators will select the objects to be imaged. Susan Grinols, Director of Photo Services and Imaging at FAMSF, will coordinate a team of art handlers and conservation staff and work with the CHI team to photograph the selected objects. She will also help the CHI team with the interview process.

About Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)

FAMSF comprises two museums: the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. Founded in 1895, the de Young is San Francisco's oldest museum. In 2005, the de Young reopened in a state-of-the-art new facility designed by the renowned Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco. The new de Young provided San Francisco with a landmark art museum to showcase the museum’s priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, as well as art of the native Americas, Africa, and the Pacific. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is an exact replica and sister institution of the Palais de la Legion d'Honneur in Paris which Napoleon used to honor French soldiers. Dedicated on November 11, 1924, Adolph and Alma Spreckles gave the California Palace of the Legion of Honor to the people of San Francisco in honor of the Californians who died in the First World War. Its collections include European decorative arts and paintings, ancient art, and one of country's largest and finest collections of works on paper (prints, drawings, photographs, books).

Susan Grinols, FAMSF Project Lead and Director of Photo Services and Imaging at FAMSF

Susan has an MFA in Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Susan began her career at FAMSF as a conservation assistant, where part of her duties included photographically documenting conservation treatments. As Director of Photo Services and Imaging, Susan oversees a department of two photographers and a handful of volunteers. She also manages the museums’ photographic assets and handles rights and reproductions.


Video: “Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Art Conservation”

Sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, this video case study examines the role of RTI in art conservation.

[SD] Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and Art Conservation from Cultural Heritage Imaging