High-tech View of Ancient Pigments

A magnified Image from the Gladzor Gospels is displayed on a laptop“Before the UCLA Library could agree to loan leaves from the Gladzor Gospels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we needed to conduct a detailed assessment of this rare and historic manuscript,” said Hannah Moshier, digitization and loans coordinator in the Library’s Preservation Program.

“The pigments on the manuscript pages to be exhibited were all tested under a digital microscope using an extremely thin and flexible dental paper tip tool held in a fine pin-vise,” explained Chela Metzger, head of conservation. “A paper tip is moved carefully on each color, while watching the magnified image on the laptop for any problems with the colors. We want to be sure the ancient materials can be transported and exhibited without undue harm.” The leaves passed the test, earning them a ticket to New York.

This painstaking process is illustrated in vivid detail on a post on the preservation blog at library.ucla.edu/blog/preservation/2017/08/29/up-close-and-personal-with-the-gladzor-gospels. It’s only one example of the advanced conservation and preservation training, equipment, and facilities that have been made possible by donor contributions to the UCLA Library.