Past Research Projects

Past ARC grants

LP0883309: The Twentieth Century in Paint (2008-2011)

Assoc. Professor Robyn Joyce Sloggett, Dr Nicole Andrea Tse, Professor Carl Herbert Schiesser, Dr Stephen Peter Best, Professor John Drennan, Professor Jane Louise Hunter, Dr Thomas John Learner, Mr Andrew Durham, Ms Zanita Anuar

The Twentieth Century in Paint is an Australia Research Council sponsored project that examines the introduction of new media, pigments, dyes and additives through revolutionary art practices in the 20th century in Australia and Southeast Asia-Pacific. It explores how the use of these materials impacts on paint handling, performance and permanence. This research will inform the preservation of modern art, and fill critical gaps in our understanding of the effect of diverse climates on artworks. This project aims to collect, develop, deposit, archive and provide access to information and data relating the development of art across the Asia-Pacific during the Twentieth Century, through the development of an effective IT interface.
Collaborating Organisations are the National Art Gallery Malaysia (Balai Seni Lukis Negara), the J. B. Vargas Museum at the University of the Philippines, Silpakorn University (Thailand) and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA), University of Melbourne School of Chemistry and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology, the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the University of Queensland, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, also at UQ, the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, ArtLab Australia, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, The Tate (UK) and the Getty Conservation Institute (USA). ($1,998,002 over three years). More information can be found on The Twentieth Century in Paint website.

DP0879758: Archaeological conservation: the development of analysis and assessment protocols for adhesives used on archaeological pottery (2008-2011)

Assoc. Professor Robyn Joyce Sloggett (GCCMC), Professor Antonio Sagona (Classics and Archaeology) and Deborah Lau (CSIRO). Research Associate: Dr Petronella Nel (GCCMC) ($513,011 over three years)

Adhesives that are used to repair archaeological pottery require high standards in performance and formulation. We identified a formulae variation that occurred ten years ago, in a 'conservation grade' adhesive that has been used since the 1980's. This change may have compromised the performance of this product. There appears to have been no industry awareness of this change. In order to prevent the use of adhesive products that no longer perform to conservation standards, this research will develop analytical pathways and protocols for adhesive identification, monitoring formulation and assessing adhesive performance. To assist with these investigations, pottery from the Melbourne University Cypriot Collection will be used to access adhesives from old repairs on the vessels.


  • Nel, P., Lonetti, C., Tam, K. and Lau, D. "A novel cultural heritage application for a portable FTIR unit" in Vibrational Spectroscopy, 2009
  • Nel, P., Jamieson, A. "Cypriot Pottery at the University of Melbourne: An examination of historical context and conservation issues" in Leiden Journal of Pottery Studies, 2008
  • Nel, P. and Lau, D. "Identification of a formulation change in a conservation grade adhesive and determination of impact on adhesive performance" in Holding it all together: Ancient and modern approaches to joining, repair and consolidation - Conference Proceedings, British Museum, London, February 21-22, 2008, Archetype Publications, London, 2008
  • Nel, P. "Issues associated with adhesives used on archaeological pottery" in Vessels: Inside and Outside - EMAC'07 - 9th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics - Conference Proceedings, October 24-27, 2007, Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, 2008
  • Nel, P. "A preliminary investigation into the identification of adhesives on archaeological pottery" in AICCM Bulletin, Vol. 30, 2007, p. 27-37
  • Nel, P., Lau, D., Hoobin, P., Braybrook, C., Mardel, J., Burgar, I., Chen, M., Curtis, P., and McHugh, C. "Analysis of adhesive used to repair archaeological pottery" in Pagliarino, A. and Osmond, G. (eds.,). Contemporary Collections - AICCM National Conference - Preprints. Brisbane, 17th-19th October 2007, p. 197-206
  • Nel, P. "A Valuable Contribution to the Field of Archaeological Conservation" in Ian Potter Museum of Art Newsletter, The University of Melbourne, No. 1, 2006, p. 10-11

LP0211015: The Behaviour of Western Artist's Materials in Tropical Environments (2003-2006)

An extensive study on the behaviour and conservation of oil painting materials in tropical climates. This research is a critical first step to assess the behaviour of canvas paintings in tropical climates, and is essential in providing informed advice on the care of such collections. More information...

Other funding

Cultural Conservation Channel (2013-2014)

Helen McPherson Smith Trust Impact Grant

Assoc. Professor Robyn Sloggett, Robert Lane, Daniel Browning, Lyndon Ormond Parker, Vanessa Kowalski.

The Cultural Conservation Channel shares stories to interconnect our experiences and memories to heritage collections. It provides accessible, informative, and practical information about the conservation of cultural material to regional and remote communities across Victoria. The dissemination of information drives the projects cultural activity, educational function and conservation practice. We will build exhibition platforms that can manage the conservation needs of various art forms to enhance the cultural inheritance of future generations. The Channel will be carried out in collaboration with Victorian partners to create and conserve diverse cultural practice.

Assessing and Building Social Investment Opportunities that Preserve Indigenous Culture (2013-2014)

University of Melbourne Interdisciplinary Seed Grant

Brad Potter, Shaun Cannon, Prakash Singh, Robyn Sloggett, Jodi York.

This research examines how the crucial resource that is corporate social investment in its various forms can be best utilized to support Aboriginal art centres and thus the autonomy, health, education and employment outcomes in under-resourced Australian communities. The project will enhance our understanding of the ways in which different models of corporate social investment can produce high-impact outcomes in this setting such as through: building capacity through human resource investment (eg internships, workshops/training, mentoring, staff working opportunities on community); philanthropic funds to support particular aspects of the art centre business; and in-kind support through free services or advice.

WADEYE IPTV: Delivering significant and at risk audiovisual archives to remote Aboriginal communities via IPTV and the NBN (2013-2014)

IBES Project Seed Funding

Lyndon Ormond-Parker, Sharon Huebner, Marcia Langton, Robyn Sloggett, Rachel Nordlinger, Ken Clarke, Julien Ridoux Kanamkek-Yile Ngala Museum, Wadeye NT Thamarrurr Development Corporation, Wadeye, NT.

The project uses IPTV and the National Broadband Network in the preservation and access of audiovisual materials at Wadeye. In partnership with Kanamkek-Yile Ngala Museum at Wadeye and the Thamarrurr Development Corporation, Wadeye, NT this research project trials how culturally significant and endangered audiovisual archival material might be most effectively and appropriately preserved and made accessible for future generations. The Wadeye museum currently holds significant collections of audiovisual recordings of ceremonies, songs and dances, languages and local ecological knowledge covering at least six different language/ tribal groups, many of which are now highly endangered much of this material irreplaceable. This pilot project will leverage off an existing in-lab proof of concept, 'BeeSmart IPTV' to stream content to a smart-phone/PC/TV but which will also demonstrate automated replication and updating of "remote" video servers such as at Wadeye from a centralised, secure archive server based at IBES. The project intends to trial the use of IPTV at Wadeye museum including the IPTV set-top box and stream IPTV locally via WiFi. IPTV is seen as an excellent technology fit as it can provide very granular, controlled access to content by separate cultural groups, and provides metadata to allow easy searching of the video archive by users, which also makes it a valuable resource for specialists such as linguists.

Multiple sensors for the in situ, non-invasive investigation of works of art (2012-2013)

Interdisciplinary Seed Grant and 2013 Melbourne Materials Institute Grant

Dr Nicole Tse, Assoc. Professor Ann Roberts, Assoc. Professor Peter Farrell, Dr Graham Brodie, Professor Carl Schiesser and Caroline Kyi, The University of Melbourne 2012

The development of 'damage functions' for Australia and its regions diverse works of art is critical for the sustainability of our cultural record. Driven by climate change and a gap in evidence based research on the behaviour of materials, this project aims to develop a smart sensor platform for the non-invasive, in-situ investigation of cultural heritage to inform the dose-response functions of a diverse range of cultural materials. This research will inform the preservation of collections in non-standard museum climates as located in the tropical regions of Australia and Southeast Asia.

Scoping cultural materials conservation methodologies for works of art in the Philippines

Endeavour Executive Award, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education at National Museum of the Philippines

Dr Nicole Tse

This project is developing regionally relevant material conservation solutions for significant works of art in the Philippines. Through peer to peer learning it integrates the knowledge systems of the National Museum and GCCMC to develop best practice conservation treatment methods, and identify environmental parameters for gallery environments according to the National Museum’s collections and resources.

Myths and Murals: Building Legacy in Contemporary Art Programs in Timor-Leste (2012-2013)

Funded by Sustainable Societies Institute

Assoc. Professor Robyn Sloggett, Arte Moris and Affirm Books.

This project examines how traditional Timorese oral and material culture (focusing on a widespread creation story of the island of Timor) is sustained through incorporation into contemporary culture. This projects examines the effective alignment of cultural knowledge held by senior community members and passed down from generation to generation with new manifestations of culture. It looks at the potential stresses and potential benefits, and assesses how the transformation of living culture into a youth-oriented arts program can provide intergenerational and community benefit. The project examines how such benefit can be understood in terms of a sustainable cultural development framework, and assess the effectiveness of such frameworks in building cultural product (including educational product) for use in the future in Timor-Leste.

The oral and geological record of natural hazards of Timor Leste and the development of a practical risk management strategy (2012-2013)

University of Melbourne 2012 Interdisciplinary Seed Grant

Assoc. Professor Sloggett, Steven Boger, Sara Soares

The objective of the project is to develop an understanding of the impact and occurrence of natural hazards in Timor-Leste using scientific risk modelling and oral traditions. The research plan involves interviewing East Timorese people about their memories of natural disasters, particularly tsunamis. Because there are few historical records the risk from geological-related disasters is not well understood or widely publicised in communities, but people remember these events, which are often recorded in local legend and oral history. The seasonal risks are being assessed on the basis of Earth surface dynamics – linking features such as topography, rainfall and underlying geology to assess the likelihood of slope failure. Mapping of geological and historical evidence for these events will provide an idea as to the distribution and perhaps frequency of these events. These data may well be predictive as to the likelihood of another such event occurring in the immediate future.

RSL LifeCare War Museum: Conservation and Community Engagement Project (2011-2013)

Sophie Lewincamp

This project engages University of Melbourne postgraduate coursework students with external partners, the Australian War Memorial and the RSL LifeCare War Museum, to carry out conservation of war heritage items. The War Museum at RSL LifeCare, Narrabeen NSW houses a collection of donations from past and current residents, recording Australia's defence forces from the First World War to present day conflicts and peacekeeping missions. The collection is especially significant because in many cases the donors and their families are actively involved in oral history and interpretation of the collection. Their knowledge of this 'living collection' is invaluable, and underpins the Museum's therapeutic reminiscence programmes.

Warmun Community Collection Conservation Project (2011- 2013)

John T Reid Charitable Trusts (2012–2013), Department of Culture & the Arts

Assoc. Professor Robyn Sloggett, Sophie Lewincamp

In 2011 a major flood at the Warmun Art Centre and conservation treatment and return of 180 works of art, has enabled a ground-breaking new partnership between Warmun and the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation; The Gija Two-Way Learning Program is currently in development and will facilitate a tertiary education level expansion of the original Gija two-way learning concept which gave rise the famous Warmun Art Movement in the 1970's.

Compositional study of ochre-earth pigments based on micro PIXE and microXRF - microXRD techniques by application of multipixel array detector technology (2009-2012)

CSIRO Collaborative Research Program

Dr Petronella Nel, Hay, Lynch.

Initial research into pigment mixtures developed into research focusing on the characterization of earth-based pigments, associated with ancient, Indigenous and contemporary artefacts and works of art. The collaborative research between GCCMC and CSIRO has attracted funding, trained 3 students via their minor thesis research projects, resulting in 4 publications, and presentations at 3 conferences and 4 seminars.