Books et al.TECHNIQUES

Where science meets art

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Science  18 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6314, pp. 826-828
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai8387

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Fifty years ago on 3 November 1966, after a long stretch of heavy rain, the Levane and La Penna dams in Valdarno, Italy, began to leak, releasing water toward the city of Florence. Fearing that the dams would burst, on 4 November, engineers discharged a massive amount of water that coursed through the city streets at an astonishing 37 miles per hour. The raging waters covered much of Florence, killing dozens of people, displacing thousands more, and damaging countless books and works of art. When the flood hit, scientific technologies were starting to become permanent fixtures in museums and cultural institutions. In the years since, art conservation science has developed into a full-fledged discipline, using state-of-the-art instrumentation to analyze and treat works of art.