CONF: Science, Museology and Connoisseurship: The Birth of the Scientific Study of Works of Art (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid – 27-29 Sep 2023)

A technical team from the Stockholm Museum at the Prado Museum in 1960, making an X-radiograph of the painting The Feast of Bacchus (Los Borrachos) by Velázquez

This international conference is intended as an opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the disciplinary transformations that took place in the early decades of the 20th century, when the intersection of scientific and historiographical research became irreversibly evident.

Under the impulse of scientific connoisseurship, the renewal of restoration practices and the new institutional purposes of museums, Art History changed. These changes happened due to the activity of a few pioneers and lovers of experimentation who went beyond disciplinary boundaries or purely professional practice, to find significant support in some initiatives of international institutions and the League of Nations organisations.

The Conference for the Study of Scientific Methods for the Examination and Preservation of Works of Art (Rome, 13-17 October 1930), in which most European countries took part, provided the decisive juncture for the establishment of a network, where a distinction between supporters and detractors, participants and absentees could be made. This conference led to the birth of a science of conservation and material research of cultural heritage in the History of Art.

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