POPART FP7 European project


European FP7 project : POPART, Preservation of polymer artefact in museum collections

Period : 2008-2012

Coordinator : CRCC

POPART project in a short:

   With the fast evolution of the chemical science in first half of the 20th century all kind of new materials such as polymers have been made available and use in the industrial production of objects and also for material used by artists to create important pieces that are recognized nowadays as masterpieces. Unfortunately, some of these polymers are degrading faster than had been expected and their medium to long term preservation constitutes a challenge to those who care for such items. Ten years ago surveys carried in Victoria and Albert Museum and in the British Museum identified more than 7.500 synthetic polymer containing objects and among them more than 12% required urgent conservation decisions. This number might be considered as a low figure, as it has to be realized that the survey takes into consideration only the final stage of deterioration process, when it becomes outwardly visible by physical changes that have induced deformation, shrinkage, cracking, surface deposits, discoloration or gloss changes. These survey results do not mean that the 88% of the collection will stay in a ‘good’ condition rating for long; the deterioration of plastics has an induction period followed by accelerated degradation that results in a rapid destruction of the object. Finally, it must be accepted that the degradation of plastics is due to irreversible chemical reactions. Although it cannot be reversed it can, given the right conditions, be slowed down.

    To support such urgent needs, the European Commission has approved, in 2008, the funding of a collaborative research in 7th Framework Programme of the European Community for research and technological development. This international project called Popart aimed to develop a European wide accepted strategy that improves preservation and maintenance of plastics objects in museum collections. It focused on museum objects as these frequently exhibit physical degradation, created with synthetic polymers (typically cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, poly(vinyl chloride), polyurethane, etc.). Based on scientific studies and experiences gathered from partners who have devoted research for many years in this field, it evaluated and established recommended practices and risk associated for analysing, exhibiting, cleaning, protecting these artefacts for future generations to enjoy or study.


Partenaires : Victoria and Albert Museum, UK ; National Museum of Denmark, Denmark ; Istituto di Fisica Applicata Nello Carrara, Italy ; RCE, The Netherlands ; Ustav Polymerov - Slovenska Akademia Vied / Polymer Institute, Slovakia Academy of Sciences, Slovakia ; Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France, ARC Nucléart, France ; SolMateS BV, the Netherlands ; Morana RTD d.o.o., Slovenia ; University College of London, Centre for Sustainable Heritage, UK ; Getty Conservation Institute, USA.

Visit the website POPART Highlights