Conservation Of Wooden Artifacts (B’)

Course Code:

Π1 6010Β


6th Semester

Specialization Category:

Elective ( ΜΕ )

Course Hours:




Course Tutors

Anastasia Pournou

Course Description


Elements of botany, primary and secondary stem growth. Cells development (cell types, development stages, cell microscopic structure). Diagnostic microscopic features of conifers and broadleaves. Chemical composition of wood (organic and inorganic chemical constituents and their distribution on chemical walls). Wood growth anomalies. Physical properties (hygroscopicity, density, shrinkage). Mechanical properties of wood. Abiotic degradation (RH, UV, pollutants, iron corrosion). Biodeterioration mechanisms and patterns of decay in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (bacteria, fungi, insects, borers). Construction technology of wooden artifacts (furniture, frames, folk art objects, etc). Decoration techniques (water and oil gilding, marquetry, japanning, etc). Ethics in conservation and restoration of wooden artifacts. Identification and documentation of construction and decoration materials as well as deterioration patterns by invasive and non-invasive methods of investigation. Cleaning methods: mechanical cleaning (vacuum cleaning, dry cleaning, scalpels), chemical cleaning (alkaline and acid aqueous solutions, soap and detergents, chelators, gels), physicochemical cleaning (introduction to leasers),  enzymes cleaning. Disinfection (modified atmospheres, organic and inorganic biocides), Consolidation (natural and synthetic polymers) Adhesion (theory of adhesion, natural and synthetic glues), Completion and reintegration. Preventive conservation (environmental control during exhibition or storages, packing methods and material for storage and transportation).

Laboratory and practical

Methods of microscopic-macroscopic examination of wooden artefacts in order to identify construction and decoration techniques and material as well as previous interventions.

Detection and identification of decay patterns caused by abiotic and biotic factors and asses its preservation condition. Testing physical properties of wood. Testing various natural and synthetic adhesives with respect to their strength and reversibility. Testing natural and synthetic coatings (varnishes) regarding gloss and resistance to photo-oxidation. Comparatively assessment of cleaning methods. Developing basic knowledge and hands on skills on historic construction. Implementation of a conservation project, where theoretical and practical knowledge are applied on a original wooden artefact which operates under a problem-based learning process.


Expected Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to:

Detect and identify the construction technology and the decoration techniques used on a wooden artefact.

Perceive the significance of objects within their historic context

Understand the deterioration mechanisms produced by both abiotic and biotic factors, in order to be able to diagnose and asses its preservation condition.

Perform the basic technical knowledge and skills on practicing historic techniques and applied conservation

Evaluate the pros and cons of a conservation/restoration approach, in order to choose the most appropriate in a decision making process.

Critical think in order to select a conservation material based not only on ad hoc criteria concerning its suitability/effectiveness for a wooden abject, but also based on other criteria including the object intangible values, conservation ethics, health and safety regulations, environmental impact etc.

Tackle with any conservation problem by learning to experiment on mock-ups before the employment of conservation methods and materials on real objects.


The Scope of the Course and Objectives

The Scope of the Course

Graduates to be able to decide the most appropriate conservation-restoration approach and to be capable applying it effectively on a wooden artefact.

Course objectives

a) to provide students the necessary background knowledge in order to diagnose the preservation condition of a wooden artifact,

b) to be able to understand the values and the significance of the objects in their context,

c) to acquire a critical thinking in a decision making process in order to select ad hoc the most suitable conservation/restoration methodology,

d) to study historic construction and decorative techniques and materials,

e) to be equipped with a broad set of skills so they will be able to effectively implement a conservation/restoration approach and

f) to use their creativity through experimentation on mock-ups,  in order to construct new options or improve existing conservation methods and materials.



Language of evaluation: Greek (English for Erasmus students). The student’s final grade results from 50% of the grade of the theoretical part and 50% of the grade of laboratory practice.

Students’ evaluation (100%): THEORY (50%): Written final exam at the end of the semester LAB PRACTICES (50%): The grade is obtained: a) from two assignments submitted by the student for the two three-hour laboratory parts of the course, 60%. The first assignment is related to the 10 laboratory exercises that are implemented in the first laboratory part and the second assignment concerns the applied conservation project of a wooden artifact of the second laboratory part. b) from two Power Point presentations (3-4 minutes, max: 4 slides per student), 10%. The first presentation concerns an international article chosen by the student and falls within the theoretical or laboratory part of the course and the second concerns the conservation work performed by each student on the artifact he / she had undertaken. c) from the performance of the student during the laboratory classes (consistency, diligence, spirit of cooperation, efficiency, etc.) 30%.



Greek :

1.Τσουμής Θ. Γ., Επιστήμη και Τεχνολογία του Ξύλου, Θεσσαλονίκη, 1983. 2.Φιλλίπου, Ι. Λ. Χημεία και χημική τεχνολογία του ξύλου, Εκδόσεις Γιαχούδη-Γιαπούλη, Θεσσαλονίκη, 1986.

International :

1.Bucur, V. Non-destructive characterization and Imagine of wood, Springer Series in Wood Science, Springer Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, Germany, 2003. la Rie, E. R. Stability and function of Coatings used in conservation, In: Proceedings of an International Conference on Polymers in Conservation, Manchester1991, (Eds: Allen, N.S.; Edge, M. and Horie, C. V), Royal Society of Chemistry, Information Services, 1992. 3.Dorge V. and Hοwlett C. F. (eds.) , Painted wood: History and conservation, Proceedings of the Symposium organized by the Wooden Artefacts Group of the American Institute for Conservation of historic and artistic works on Virginia 1994, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1998. 4.Dardes, Kathleen, and Andrea Rothe, eds. The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings: Proceedings of a Symposium at the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Getty Conservation Institute Los Angeles, 1998. 5.Eaton R. A. and Hale M. D. C., Wood. Decay pest and protection. (Eds. Chapman and Hall), London, 1993. 6.Feller, R. L. Accelerated Aging in Conservation Science, Getty Conservation Institute, 1994. 7.Horie, C. V. Materials for Conservation-Organic Consolidants, Adhesives and Coatings Butterworths, Borough Green, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 8PH, UK, 1987. 8.Rowell R.r M., (ed.) Handbook of Wood Chemistry and Wood Composites. University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, 2005. 9. Rivers S. and Umney N. Conservation of furniture, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003. 10. Panshin, A. J. and De Zeeuw, C. Textbook of wood technology : Structure, identification, properties and uses of the commercial woods of the United-states and Canada, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1980. 11. Schweingruber, F. H. Microscopic Wood Anatomy, Swiss Federal Institute for forestry research, Zurcher AG, Zug,1978. 12. Unger A., Schniewind A. P. and Unger W. Conservation of Wood Artefacts. A Handbook, Springer, Germany, 2001. 13. Van Duin P., VanLoosdrecht D. and Wheeler, D. (eds.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Wood and Furniture Conservation, Rijksmuseum /VeRes Amsterdam, 1999.