The museum has an active conservation and heritage science programme run through the conservation department. Research and analysis is carried out in collaboration with curators, researchers, conservators and scientists within the museum, the wider University and external institutions. Scientific investigation is conducted to inform preservation strategies for the collections and to enhance our understanding of the past including materials, manufacture, technology, provenance, dating, repair, reuse, restoration and authenticity.

Techniques at the museum include optical microscopy, ultraviolet and infrared photography, portable X-ray fluorescence and spectrophotometry. We also have access to micro-CT, X-radiography, scanning electron microscopy, micro-XRF, hyperspectral imaging, FTIR, Raman spectroscopy, LA-ICP-MS and GC-MS within the University and via our external partners. 

We actively collaborate with other University of Oxford departments including the University museums and libraries, Archaeology, Materials Science and Engineering, as well as external institutions such as UCL, Cranfield University and the British Museum through research, teaching and publication. 

Recent projects include the investigation of Dutch silver, Raphael drawings, cuneiform tablets, Worcester porcelain, tin-glazed ceramics, jet and pesticides.


Under ultraviolet light showing previous joins and restorations.
Using a microscope to examine fine detail
Detail x18 magnification (microscopy)
One of the scans showing the child probably died of pneumonia.
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