HSS session: "Scientific examination of art and archeological artefacts"
During the latter part of the twentieth century, many museums installed scientific laboratories for the examination and conservation of artefacts.It has now become standard to perform elaborate scientific investigations before making any alterations to museum pieces. Yet, until the Second World War, science was often mistrusted and neglected as a proper source for art historical knowledge. Scientists were often regarded to be unqualified to speak out on art, and their evidence was considered to be without any value to the real connoisseur or art collector. This confrontation of science and art brings out many interesting themes. The rejection of scientific arguments in art historical debates highlights the public perception of science and art as antagonistic forces, in much the same way as P.C. Snow's famous Two Cultures book. It also underscores debates on the nature of knowledge and the role of the public in endorsing the boundaries of scientific authority. In this sessi