Clare Lab

Microscopic images of surface structure.

We study newly emerging technologies, such as those in nano-materials chemistry, to advance preservation practices. We are interested in improving the performance, reducing the environmental impact, and facilitating the commercialization of these new materials to make them widely accepted and available for use by conservators worldwide. We are also developing new diagnostics and methods to better preserve material cultural heritage.

Research in the Lasseter Clare Lab focuses on the intersection of materials chemistry and the conservation of artistic and historic works.


Airborne pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, have a deleterious effect on outdoor artwork often leading to corrosion of the metal. These effects may be mitigated by the use of protective coatings. We are currently collaborating with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to develop protective coatings for use on outdoor metalwork, such as bronze sculptures and architectural ironwork. In a project with the Seattle Art Museum, we are developing diagnostic tools to detect the early breakdown of coatings to observe changes before damage occurs to artwork.


We support and collaborate with conservators of artistic and historic works throughout the Pacific Northwest applying the unique capabilities of the Regional Lab for the Science of Cultural Heritage Conservation at Portland State University. To learn more about some of the instruments used in our lab, click here (https://www.pdx.edu/clarelab/instruments) . Analytical instrumentation at Portland State University, which includes Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy, Powder X-ray Diffraction, and Mass Spectrometry, enhance the capabilities of the Lab.

What is Conservation Science?
Conservation science is an interdisciplinary field that applies scientific theories and methods for the characterization and preservation of works of cultural heritage. We believe that these objects merit scientific study to gain a deeper understanding of the artist or object itself and to preserve these works for future generations. Within the field of conservation there exist ethical considerations that the scientist must adhere to, in that any analysis or practice must be minimally invasive and non-destructive. When it is required to remove a sample for study, microsampling techniques are used so as to not alter the appearance of the piece to the naked eye.

How does the Lasseter Clare Lab apply chemistry to conservation science?
As research scientists both trained in and developing analytical chemistry techniques we are in a unique position to acquire a greater understanding of artists' materials and how to protect works of cultural heritage. Research in our lab focuses on the following areas in the chemistry field:

  • Developing new materials to better protect outdoor metalwork
  • Electrochemical characterization and circuit modeling of degradation processes
  • Collaborations with local and regional cultural heritage institutions to solve specific problems facing works in
  • their collections