The application of science and technology are essential for the identification and understanding of the materials from which artefacts are made and the causes and prevention of deterioration. The significance and role scientists play within an interdisciplinary team is an important concept in this field.
The Diagnostic Science Laboratories’ (DSL) primary aim is to develop and promote appropriate solutions to the conservation problems of objects, art, architecture, archaeological sites and monuments.
DSL staff members carry out research in an interdisciplinary team effort to ensure the protection of our collections through the application of recent scientific knowledge in accordance with international practices. Scientists provide essential information to conservators about deterioration causes, principal factors influencing the damage mechanisms and compatible treatment options. They also conduct scientific research on the composition of materials, authentication and identification that can contribute to the scholarly interpretation of art and artefacts from the past. The state-of-the-art setup housed at DSL consists of several technologies which include scanning electron microscopy, X-ray imaging, diffraction and micro-fluorescence analytical systems, Infrared technology, scientific photographic techniques as well as non-invasive portable systems. In line with providing solutions to the questions posed to it, DSL also has an expanded international arm of laboratories and consultants for those techniques not available in Malta, thus optimising its analytical application power. Stemming from its national responsibility and expertise, DSL is also involved in consultancy, education, lecturing and academic research supervision.
DSL also operates a Preventive Conservation unit, dedicated to environmental monitoring and preventive conservation strategies. This section addresses the preservation concerns of a vast amount of cultural heritage materials under the care of Heritage Malta and to reduce the real risks to our cultural treasures.
In addition to providing services to other conservation sections requesting scientific investigations, the laboratories also see to requests from private collections and those under the responsibility of external bodies other than Heritage Malta, as well as provide analytical services to third parties.