The LRMH team

Founded in 1967 by Jean Taralon, Inspector General of Historical Monuments at the time, and located in the outbuildings of the Château de Champs-sur-Marne since 1970, the Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (known by its French initials, LRMH) is currently a national-level service of the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Heritage Department).

The Laboratory’s mission is to lend scientific and technical support to conservation and restoration work on historical monuments, be they buildings, major decorative ensembles or movable objects. It delivers on this fundamental task not only by providing scientific guidance to restoration project managers and contracting authorities (scientific and technical oversight on the part of the State), but also through the scientific studies that it conducts on public monuments and certain major works and through its research on the conservation of cultural heritage. It is this research activity that justifies its association with the USR 3224.

The research activities of the LRMH can be divided into three main categories: investigation into materials from which monuments are made and the processes involved in their degradation; evaluation or optimization of conservation and restoration products and techniques; and, finally, development of new scientific instrumentation, as non-invasive as possible, and often suitable for field work.

The LRMH team has a staff of 34 (of whom 23 are scientists), working in eight thematic sub-groups, each dedicated to research on a certain material or type of artifact: wood, concrete, decorated caves, metal, wall paintings and polychromy, stone, textile and stained glass. As a complement to these eight sub-groups, there is also a cross-disciplinary group on biological deterioration. The scientists assigned to these sub-groups are physicists, chemists, biochemists and materials engineers. Having already trained at university, what they acquire in LRMH is highly specialized expertise and excellent experience in the conservation of heritage-related materials, thus becoming preservation scientists at the service of those responsible for cultural heritage.

In addition to research conducted under its own budget, funded by the inter-Ministerial program for research, the LRMH is a regular participant in nationwide projects (French National Research Agency, National Research Program on Heritage Preservation) or European projects (two of which are currently in progress in FP7). It is a member of two Laboratories of Excellence (LabEx): MATISSE, directed by Pierre and Marie Curie University; and PATRIMA, led by Cergy-Pontoise University and dedicated solely to research on materials found in heritage objects. The LRMH also manages a portable equipment platform being developed as part of an Equipment of Excellence initiative (EquipEx PATRIMEX). In addition, it participates in one of the greater Paris region’s Strategic Interest Departments, the OXYMORE network on oxides, in which it coordinates, along with the CRCC, work on heritage-related materials.