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Guest Speaker

Keynote Address ~ Dr. Glenn Alan Gates

Glenn Alan Gates Glenn Alan Gates Ph.D. conducts research that synthesizes chemistry and material science with art and cultural heritage. Since 2010, he has run the Science Laboratory at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, addressing questions surrounding the composition, construction, preservation and authentication of works of art from the past fifty-five centuries, including ancient Egyptian statues, Roman portraits, Medieval manuscripts, Renaissance masterpieces, Impressionist paintings and Tiffany jewelry. Previously, he was the Head Research Scientist at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In 2010, when NSF solicited proposals on science applied to cultural heritage for the first time in its history, Glenn was awarded funding as co-PI on a four-year collaborative study to develop nano-ceramic barrier coatings that reduce tarnish and corrosion on silver art in museums. One unusual outcome of this research was an invitation to co-curate the Walters exhibition Lost & Found: The Secrets of Archimedes to highlight recent scientific findings; another outcome was a patent that has since sold. Glenn's research appears in exhibition catalogues, including Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe (2010) and Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection (2012), and journals, including Analytical Chemistry, Heritage Science, and The Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society.

Glenn's interests in the application of chemistry to art coalesced while working at the Ringling Museum of Art, at the same time that he attended New College in Sarasota (AB '92 in Chemistry/Art Material Studies), when it was still part of the University of South Florida. After exploring corrosion and interfacial phenomena at the University of Florida in Gainesville (MS '97 in Material Science and Engineering), Glenn continued materials studies of polymers under Julianne Harmon PhD at the University of South Florida, Tampa (PhD '01 Physical [Polymer] Chemistry). As the first Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Science at the Harvard University Art Museums, Glenn collaborated with the contemporary artist Sharon Lockhart to create five life-sized Chromogenic prints titled The Testing of Assumptions: Glenn Gates, Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard University, 2005 that were exhibited at the Gio Marconi Gallery in Milan, 2005 to coincide with the 51st Venice Biennale. His postdoctoral materials research is published in the book titled John Singer Sargent’s "Triumph of Religion" at the Boston Public Library: Creation and Restoration (Harvard Art Museums, 2009).

Glenn is continuing to develop the field of chemistry and materials science applied to art and cultural heritage by collaborating with the University of Maryland - Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins University to host high-performing science and engineering students with diverse backgrounds for research experiences in art conservation and conservation science. He is also working with academic and industry representatives of the American Ceramic Society to develop the new Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science Division that highlights, attracts, and nurtures talent within the field of science applied to cultural heritage.

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