The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects provides an account of the composition, chemistry, and analysis of the organic materials which enter into the structures of objects in museum collections. This book is not intended to duplicate the information available in existing handbooks on the materials and techniques of art and conservation but rather to convey the state of knowledge of the chemical composition of such materials and so provide a framework for a general understanding of their properties.
The book begins with a review of basic organic chemistry, covering hydrocarbons and compounds with functional groups. It then describes spectrometry and separation methods. This is followed by discussions of the chemistry and composition of oils and fats, natural waxes, bituminous materials, carbohydrates, proteins, and natural resins and lacquers. Subsequent chapters deal with synthetic materials, i.e., high molecular weight polymers of a wholly synthetic nature; and natural and synthetic dyestuffs. Also discussed are the deterioration and other changes in organic materials resulting from both free radical and ionic reactions; and the application of analytical methods to identify the organic materials of actual museum objects. This book is intended for both chemists and nonchemists.