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New Technologies and Pathways to Sustainable Conservation of Cultural Heritage

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Tourism, Culture, and Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 May 2024 | Viewed by 13217

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Earth Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Interests: archaeometry; cultural heritage conservation; geomaterials
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Kelvin Centre for Conservation and Cultural Heritage Research, School of Culture and Creative Arts, Kelvin Hall, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G3 8AW, UK
Interests: provenance of red pigments; archaeological pottery; photonic imaging; mural paintings; ceramic; stones; glass artworks
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Interests: dyes and pigments; organic binders; spectroscopic techniques; cultural heritage materials

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cultural heritage, whatever the composition and location (indoor or outdoor) is, can undergo deterioration by various factors, such as thermo-hygrometric conditions, mechanical stress, electromagnetic radiation, and biodeterioration. These interactions determine changes in the composition which are mainly due to the aging of the materials artworks are made of. It is known that climate change plays an important role in the degradation of Cultural Heritage, but also mass tourism and incorrect conservation methods act on the conservation of artworks.

In recent decades, there has been an ever-growing interest in protecting both the environment and the operator who works on cultural heritage. Despite the recent research developments of cleaning methods for artistic surfaces, common restoration practices still involve the use of substances with high impact on both the environment and human health, such as organic solvents and solutions capable of developing volatile species (e.g., ammonia from ammonium carbonate). Furthermore, the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage assets is often linked to non-standardized restoration protocols, case-by-case adjusted, involving the use of solvents and other mixtures of chemicals, as well as biocidal products, which can pose both the operator and the environment at risk. Therefore, one of the main challenges in the field of research is the development of innovative products for the conservation of cultural heritage.

On the other hand, the definition of innovative non-destructive sampling techniques could be resolved as well, to monitor the state of conservation without damage. A continuous monitoring of the conditions, allowed by the non-destructiveness of the methods, provides the significant reduction of traumatic intervention or restoration activities. Moreover, in accordance with the pushing requirements in the general field of the Analytical Chemistry, new analytical protocols involving safe, non-toxic and sustainable methods and techniques for the diagnostics in cultural heritage represent a frontier of research for conservation: from this point of view, the use of green solvents, hydrogels and eco-friendly substrates and materials disclose new perspectives for sustainable investigations of historical and cultural artifacts.

This Special Issue aims to collect scientific contributions on new materials for the protection or conservation of cultural heritage, new conservative approaches and innovative monitoring techniques.

Topics of interest for this Special Issue include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Smart materials for the protection of cultural heritage;
  • Biomaterials for the protection of cultural heritage;
  • Green materials for conservation and restoration activities;
  • Innovative sampling methods in conservation science;
  • Innovative monitoring methods;
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly analytical methods for diagnostics;
  • Protocols for the assessment of climate change impact on CH.

Dr. Laura Medeghini
Dr. Michela Botticelli
Dr. Alessandro Ciccola
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • cultural heritage
  • smart materials
  • sampling techniques
  • green chemistry
  • sustainable conservation

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 8930 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Protective Strategies and Biocide Applications in the Restoration of Palazzo Centrale Dell’Università, Catania, Italy
by Roberta Occhipinti, Giuseppe Lazzara, Paolo Mazzoleni, Alfredo Motta and Germana Barone
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072948 - 02 Apr 2024
Viewed by 476
Abstract
The present work discusses the challenges and approaches involved in conserving cultural heritage (CH), specifically focusing on eco-friendly conservation methods and the management of biodeterioration. It highlights the need for innovative protocols that align with green conservation criteria, aiming to replace traditional, potentially [...] Read more.
The present work discusses the challenges and approaches involved in conserving cultural heritage (CH), specifically focusing on eco-friendly conservation methods and the management of biodeterioration. It highlights the need for innovative protocols that align with green conservation criteria, aiming to replace traditional, potentially harmful practices with sustainable alternatives. This study is based on the role of nanomaterials like halloysite in developing protective coatings for CH materials. Additionally, the issues of biological colonization on CH assets, the difficulties in controlling environmental factors affecting biodeterioration, and the use of direct methods in outdoor conservation were also evaluated. This work is specifically focused on a case study: the “Palazzo Centrale dell’ Università” in Catania (Italy), where alternative, eco-friendly protectives and biocides have been tested on Hyblean limestones. After a preliminary study of the lithology and the forms of degradation which affect the whole monument, laboratory tests were carried out using the newly developed protective coatings on several types of Hyblean limestone in order to assess their efficacy and their impact on the stone. Furthermore, cleaning operations were also tested on-site by comparing an eco-friendly biocide with commercial counterparts in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the products and establish an efficient restoration protocol for future projects. Full article
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25 pages, 9911 KiB  
Article
Proof-of-Concept Study on the Feasibility of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide-Assisted Consolidation Treatment for a Pair of Goalkeeper Gloves on Synthetic Latex-Based Foam Mock-Ups
by Joana Tomás Ferreira, Angelica Bartoletti, Susana França de Sá, Anita Quye, Yvonne Shashoua, Teresa Casimiro and Joana Lia Ferreira
Sustainability 2024, 16(4), 1562; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16041562 - 13 Feb 2024
Viewed by 636
Abstract
This work investigates the suitability of supercritical fluid technology for designing a safe, efficient and sustainable consolidation treatment for a pair of heavily degraded goalkeeper gloves. Traditional methods have revealed themselves as unsafe and inefficient, leading to material loss and a minimal enhancement [...] Read more.
This work investigates the suitability of supercritical fluid technology for designing a safe, efficient and sustainable consolidation treatment for a pair of heavily degraded goalkeeper gloves. Traditional methods have revealed themselves as unsafe and inefficient, leading to material loss and a minimal enhancement of surface cohesion. To overcome these limitations, the use of supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) was explored in a treatment, where scCO2 behaves as a green solvent and consolidant carrier. In-depth and homogeneous application of the consolidant, without the need for direct contact with the foam material, was sought. As a proof of concept, the procedure was tested on samples that mimic the synthetic latex-based foam composition and condition of the object. Poly(vinyl acetate) was selected as a consolidant because its behaviour and solubility in scCO2 are known. Several experimental conditions were explored to assess the impact and feasibility of the scCO2-assisted consolidation procedure. Empirical observations, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and infrared spectroscopy were used to monitor potential modifications in the samples and assess the treatment efficacy. The results highlighted the advantages and pitfalls of scCO2-assisted consolidation, paving the way for fine-tuning the process. It neither damaged the fragile surfaces of the foam samples nor increased material loss, which is an advantage compared to traditional treatments. The performed analysis suggested that homogeneous impregnation of the foams was achieved. This study might be a turning point in the conservation of foam-based museum objects, as the results indicate the suitability of the scCO2-assisted consolidation process as a non-toxic and more efficient alternative, being safer for the object. Full article
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18 pages, 2477 KiB  
Article
Organogels for Low-Polar Organic Solvents: Potential Applications on Cultural Heritage Materials
by Chiara Biribicchi, Laura Giuliani, Andrea Macchia and Gabriele Favero
Sustainability 2023, 15(23), 16305; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152316305 - 25 Nov 2023
Viewed by 798
Abstract
Traditional cleaning methods for removing undesired substances from artworks often involve the use of toxic volatile solvents, raising concerns about human health and environmental impact. Over time, various cleaning systems, such as thickeners, rigid, peelable, and nanostructured gels, have been introduced in the [...] Read more.
Traditional cleaning methods for removing undesired substances from artworks often involve the use of toxic volatile solvents, raising concerns about human health and environmental impact. Over time, various cleaning systems, such as thickeners, rigid, peelable, and nanostructured gels, have been introduced in the conservation sector to minimize solvent use and toxicity. However, these methods are primarily tailored for aqueous solutions or medium-to-high-polar solvents, leaving sustainable organogels for low-polar solvents largely unexplored. This paper explores the application of Low-Molecular-Weight Gelators (LMWGs) in the field of cultural heritage conservation, focusing on their potential to gel low-polar organic solvents. LMWGs, including cholesterol derivatives, fatty acid-derived compounds, anthryl, anthraquinone, amino acid, and saccharide-based organogelators, offer biocompatible and cost-effective options by forming supramolecular gels that immobilize solvents and reduce their release into the environment. This study highlights the need to transition from traditional, often toxic, solvents to greener and more sustainable cleaning systems by emphasizing LMWGs’ biodegradability, biocompatibility, and sustainability. While challenges such as optimizing gel properties and ensuring compatibility with artwork surfaces still need to be addressed, LMWGs hold promise as organogelators in conservation practice. Further research into LMWGs should focus on their optimization for conservation applications by adjusting their rheological properties and physico-chemical stability. Full article
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21 pages, 3431 KiB  
Article
Chemical Composition of Hydrophobic Coating Solutions and Its Impact on Carbonate Stones Protection and Preservation
by Forough Armal, Luís Dias, José Mirão, Vera Pires, Fabio Sitzia, Sérgio Martins, Mafalda Costa and Pedro Barrulas
Sustainability 2023, 15(22), 16135; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152216135 - 20 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1768
Abstract
The decay diagnosis and conservation of stone-built heritage is becoming a worldwide concern, especially when stone decay causes chromatic changes in the original stone aesthetics, which directly impacts its sociocultural value. Among all the causes of stone decay, water action is identified as [...] Read more.
The decay diagnosis and conservation of stone-built heritage is becoming a worldwide concern, especially when stone decay causes chromatic changes in the original stone aesthetics, which directly impacts its sociocultural value. Among all the causes of stone decay, water action is identified as the major cause of stone decay and chromatic changes in stone building materials; hence, protective eco-friendly hydrophobic coatings are the efficient and fundamental options to prevent penetrating water into the stone. This paper aims to contribute to tackling water action on natural building stones by studying three different commercial hydrophobic coatings and finding out the correlation between the effectivity, compatibility, and durability of these coatings and the physical, chemical, and mineralogical features of four distinct types of limestone, one calcitic dolomite, four kinds of marble, and one granitoid. Nine different natural stones have been chosen due to their variations in physical, chemical, and mineralogical natures. A multi-analytical approach was adopted through digital microscopy and colourimetry assays to assess the compatibility of the hydrophobic coatings, accelerating ageing in climatic chambers to assess their durability, optical tensiometer analyses to evaluate the hydrophobic effectiveness, and h-XRF and XRPD for determining the chemical and mineralogical composition of stone samples. The results obtained demonstrate that the coating composed of silane/siloxane with modified fluorinated additives (FAKOLITH FK-3 Plus Nano) is the most effective, compatible, and durable coating among the selected hydrophobic coatings. These results can be considered the pioneering steps for developing eco-friendly and cost-effective coatings. Full article
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19 pages, 48780 KiB  
Article
The Integration of HBIM-SIG in the Development of a Virtual Itinerary in a Historical Centre
by Concepción López-González and Jorge García-Valldecabres
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13931; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813931 - 19 Sep 2023
Viewed by 859
Abstract
The continuous increase in cultural tourism, together with the deficient planning of public use, increases the risk of heritage resource degradation. Currently, there are collaborative methodologies enabling all the agents involved in the conservation of a heritage site to work in a coordinated [...] Read more.
The continuous increase in cultural tourism, together with the deficient planning of public use, increases the risk of heritage resource degradation. Currently, there are collaborative methodologies enabling all the agents involved in the conservation of a heritage site to work in a coordinated way (HBIM), such as in the management of public use. However, in this study, through a review of the scientific literature, the lack of a method and tool that allows sustainable conservation management and the planning of cultural tourism of heritage assets in a specific geographical environment is demonstrated. The objective of this research is thus to explore and identify the possibilities of interoperability between HBIM and GIS for the development of a protocol aimed at synchronizing the information concerning heritage architecture across the management and cultural tourism planning and preventive conservation. This protocol was implemented for three monumental buildings in the historic centre of the city of Valencia (Spain). This novel protocol provides a new technological system that fosters the cultural development and preservation and conservation of heritage assets through a single tool integrating HBIM and GIS. Full article
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16 pages, 31115 KiB  
Article
Digital Sustainability of Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Example of the “Wu Leno” Weaving Technique in Suzhou, China
by Lan Yu
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9803; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129803 - 19 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Digital technology can be used to enable the living preservation and heritage innovation of the intangible cultural heritage of Chinese traditional textile skills for sustainable development. Taking the “Wu Leno” weaving technique in Suzhou as the research object, we first elaborated on the [...] Read more.
Digital technology can be used to enable the living preservation and heritage innovation of the intangible cultural heritage of Chinese traditional textile skills for sustainable development. Taking the “Wu Leno” weaving technique in Suzhou as the research object, we first elaborated on the origin, development, and evolution of “Wu Leno” through documentary research and case study methods. Second, considering the inheritance of the Leno weaving technique, we used digital technology to establish the pattern. The study showed that a digital database and virtual reality technology can be used to build a loom model and create a simulation library to realize innovative applications and interactive experiences in apparel design. The study also showed that the digital database and the interactive technology of virtual reality can provide practical pathways and explore experiences for the preservation, inheritance, cross-border communication, and sustainable innovation development of Suzhou “Wu Leno” weaving techniques in modern times. Full article
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15 pages, 4918 KiB  
Article
The Deutsches Museum Spacesuit Display: Long-Term Preservation and Atmospheric Monitoring
by Charlotte Holzer, Benoît Lescop, Gilles Nguyen-Vien and Stéphane Rioual
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9442; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129442 - 12 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Spacesuits are highly valuable artifacts made of sensitive synthetic materials, including rubber, polyvinylchloride, polyamide, or polyurethane. The main concerns for preservation are off-gazing from the objects themselves and the exterior agents of deterioration humidity, high temperature, UV radiation, and visible light. This study [...] Read more.
Spacesuits are highly valuable artifacts made of sensitive synthetic materials, including rubber, polyvinylchloride, polyamide, or polyurethane. The main concerns for preservation are off-gazing from the objects themselves and the exterior agents of deterioration humidity, high temperature, UV radiation, and visible light. This study addresses the implementation of preventive conservation in the Deutsches Museum spacesuit display and the evaluation of the atmosphere with monitoring methods. The focus lies on innovative RFID corrosion sensors developed by the Lab-STICC and used in an exhibition for the first time. In addition, commercial devices (climate logger, UV and light meters, infrared thermal imaging) were used to check the conditions in the spacesuit showcase. The source for off-gazing coming from a suit could be located through the sensors, and the low corrosivity inside the showcase showed the effectivity of the installed charcoal absorbers. Humidity, however, was unable to be reduced to the recommended 30–40% in the large-scale showcase with silica gel. The LED lighting in the dark exhibition excludes any harmful high-energy radiation, but thermal radiation is produced by lighting and electrical devices. The applied methods were effective in evaluating the current situation in the exhibition and form a good basis for future improvements on the display. Full article
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16 pages, 8018 KiB  
Article
A Virtual Experience System of Bamboo Weaving for Sustainable Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage Based on VR Technology
by Lufang Zhang, Yue Wang, Zhichuan Tang, Xia Liu and Moran Zhang
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3134; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043134 - 08 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3134
Abstract
As an important national cultural treasure, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) faces certain problems in inheritance and sustainability. With the development of digital technology, the increasing research and application of virtual reality technology in ICH have been presented. This paper proposes a virtual experience [...] Read more.
As an important national cultural treasure, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) faces certain problems in inheritance and sustainability. With the development of digital technology, the increasing research and application of virtual reality technology in ICH have been presented. This paper proposes a virtual experience system for Dongyang bamboo weaving, a traditional form of ICH craftsmanship, to display its historical background, cultural connotation, and technical craftsmanship. The learning module of the system is evaluated through the comparative experiments by 8 subjects. From the experimental data, compared with the computer, the average time for subjects to learn bamboo weaving in the system is shorter. The results of the questionnaire indicate that the learning module arouse their interest in bamboo weaving. The result shows the system is able to create an immersive and interactive scene for the users to understand bamboo weaving culture and learn the skills, which may encourage the sustainable development of bamboo weaving culture from the perspective of diffusion and provide research methods for other studies on traditional craftsmanship of ICH. Full article
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