Ongoing development of a semi-quantitative protocol for assessing the suitability of commercial materials used to store or exhibit cellulose-based artworks
Department of Scientific Research, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, 10028, New York City, NY, USA
2 Department of Chemistry, Institute of Chemistry of Renewable Resources, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, 1190, Vienna, Austria
Accepted: 12 October 2021
Published online: 28 October 2021
Emission of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from construction materials used to store or display artworks is a significant concern for cultural heritage stewards. In this study, a simple analytical protocol that evaluates the effect of off-gassed VOCs from construction materials on cellulose was developed. The study involved artificially aging Whatman®1 (WT1) paper, a cellulose sensor which acted as a surrogate for cellulose-based artifacts in collections, in a sealed jar with nine commercially available construction materials at different aging conditions (60–80 °C for 14–28 days) to identify a viable aging protocol. High-pressure anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD) measured the glucose produced during WT1 hydrolysis from water extracts of aged samples. Ultraviolet–visible (UV–Vis) diffuse reflectance spectroscopy non-invasively tracked changes in absorption in the 250–500 nm range. Tests showed 80 °C for 14 days to be the aging conditions to induce measurable degradation of the cellulose sensor when aged with construction materials. HPAEC-PAD and UV–Vis data were compared with two established paper degradation analytical methods, size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and carbonyl content measurements, as well as to a diagnostic VOCs protocol, the Oddy test. HPAEC-PAD identified glucose before changes in molecular weight were identified via SEC, and UV-absorbance only moderately correlated with increasing carbonyl content. While additional tests are necessary prior the adoption of this protocol, results to date indicate the potential for the approach as a more rapid and unbiased alternative to the Oddy test for evaluating construction materials to be used near cellulosic collections.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021