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Techniques & Tools Chemical, Data Analysis

Light at the Museum

How did you come to study this particular manuscript?

Louisa Smieska: When I was a postdoc at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) last year, my supervisor Arthur Woll and I organized a workshop on applications of scanning x-ray fluorescence for the study of cultural heritage materials. Laurent Ferri, curator of pre-1800 materials in the Cornell Library Rare and Manuscript Collection, attended the workshop and suggested that we look into the group of fragments that Ruth was cataloguing. Happily, Ruth and I already knew each other from a course we’d taken at the Johnson Museum on campus...

Ruth Mullett: Our initial goal was to learn more about these fragments by looking at trends in pigment and color use. Initially, we were hoping to uncover how many of our pages used lapis lazuli – a blue pigment.

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About the Author

Louise Smieska and Ruth Mullet

Louisa Smieska took on the project as a postdoctoral researcher at CHESS (Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source) after completing her doctorate in chemistry. She studied fine art as an undergraduate at Hamilton College; she is now an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Ruth Mullett is a medieval studies doctoral student at Cornell. She is also a fellow in the Fragmentarium project based at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, which is building a database of fragments from different institutions.

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