Church Art Preserved

Technology

Church Art Preserved

Art and cultural preservation is a shared global goal. Your heritage could be part of my education and enlightenment, now or in the future. UNESCO and other UN institutions, (IAEA - UN Atomic Energy Agency), play a critical role, including in this unusual example of art and icons saved from parasites by irradiation in a church in Romania.


Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts

Father Ioan, Parish Priest, Izvoarele:
“Because the icons are thick objects, the injected solution did not enter deeply enough from the surface and there was no effect. That's why I had to consider a better solution.”

Valentin Moise, Chief Operator, IRASM Radiation Processing Centre, Bucharest:
“One of the major applications of radiation processing is radiation sterilisation and by extension with radiation we can inactivate any kind of bacteria and fungi or other biological organisms.”

Aman Museum Bucharest

Rodica Antonescu, Head of Conservation, Municipal Museum, Bucharest:
“Any other method could much more expensive and we don’t have the opportunities to have all this very special equipment. Also it was much more dangerous for our health.”

Nuclear techniques are being used to protect and preserve works of art around the world.

Father Ioan peaceful world was shaken one day when he found unwanted guests in his church in Izvoarele, Romania.

Insects had invaded the church’s precious icons. They were eating away at the wood and were threatening to destroy these sacred works of art.

At first the priest tried to solve the problem, using chemicals.

Father Ioan, Parish Priest, Izvoarele, Romania:
“Because the icons are thick objects, the injected solution did not enter deeply enough from the surface and there was no effect. That's why I had to consider a better solution.”

The solution came from an unusual source, radiation, stored in a six-metre deep water pool at a radiation processing centre in Bucharest.

When activated this radioactive source emits powerful gamma rays that can kill insects, bacteria and fungi.

Valentin Moise, Chief Operator, IRASM Radiation Processing Centre, Bucharest:
“One of the major applications of radiation processing is radiation sterilisation and by extension with radiation we can inactivate any kind of bacteria and fungi or other biological organisms.”

The Aman Museum in city centre Bucharest is currently undergoing renovation.

The damp conditions were a perfect breeding ground for insects and fungi which infested the building and its contents.

Such problems can be controlled using chemicals, but the museum opted for irradiation.

Rodica Antonescu, Head of Conservation, Municipal Museum, Bucharest:
“Any other method could much more expensive and we don’t have the opportunities to have all this very special equipment. Also it was much more dangerous for our health.”

After treatment the works of art are returned to the museum and carefully restored.

Once all the objects are contaminant-free the museum will be reopened to the public.

Eventually the treated icons were returned to the church and the insects did not come back.

Details

Language: Romanian

Year of Production: 2010

Length: 2:30

Country: Romania

Directors:

  • Muhamed Sacirbey, UNTV

Producers:

  • Susan Sacirbey