The NTNU University Museum is responsible for the safeguarding and management of its archaeological and cultural history collections as dictated by Norwegian law and the International Council of Museum’s (ICOM’s) international guidelines.
Safeguarding the museum collections requires special expertise in conservation where materials science, agents of deterioration, climate and environment, and storage are key elements, as well as a general understanding of cultural heritage objects.
This is an expertise that the Conservation Laboratory has continued to develop since the early 1970s when the volume of finds recovered from excavations of the medieval cultural layers in the city of Trondheim created an urgent need for new conservation methods, more conservators, and suitable museum storage facilities.
The laboratory is a separate unit organized within the Department of Archaeology and Cultural History. In addition to its conservation responsibilities, it actively participates in the department’s archaeological fieldwork, outreach projects, and teaching activities. With its facilities and advanced equipment in conservation and documentation, the laboratory is one of the national leaders in its field today.
At present the Conservation Laboratory has a permanent staff of five conservators including one scientist. The laboratory staff contributes lecturing in materials science, deterioration, conservation, and field conservation methods to NTNU’s archaeology programme. Moreover, the laboratory hosts conservation interns from national and international training programmes in conservation.
Areas of competency with the laboratory includes among other things:
- Conservation of artefacts in the field and block-lifting of artefacts.
- Conservation and preservation of organic and inorganic material objects.
- Conservation and documentation of polychrome works of art.
- Preservation of rock art.
- Preventive conservation.
- Documentation through the use of digital x-radiography, and infra-red (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) light.
- Material investigation using x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF).
- Design and fitting of museum storage facilities.
- Climate control for cultural heritage exhibition and storage facilities.
- Exhibition work with museum objects.
- Courier activities and securing museum objects.
- Teaching in tangible cultural heritage preservation and deterioration.
Examples of some of the laboratory’s equipment & facilities:
- Digital x-radiography employing the scanner CRxFlex system from GE, and x-ray tubes 200 kV – 10 mA and 160 kV – 38 mA.
- Material analysis using the hand-held portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer from NITON, model XL3t GOLLD+.
- Material analysis using the Fourier Transform Infra-red (FTIR) spectrometer model Spotlight 200 & S400 MIR/NIR SYS from Perkin-Elmer (under development).
- Freeze-drying system with two condenser units, and a temperature-controlled vacuum chamber (75cm ø x 200cm l).
- System for the electrolytical reduction of metals.
- 15 m2 cold storage room at -29 °C.
Conservation Laboratory photos