Conservation Science Laboratory

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields operates a 3,000 square foot state-of-the-art analytical and research laboratory for the study of artists’ materials. This facility was partially funded by a generous $2.6M grant from the Lilly Endowment.


Gregory Dale Smith, PhD, Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist

Dr. Smith previously served as the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Conservation Science at SUNY Buffalo State College, one of only three graduate programs for comprehensive art conservation training in the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in physical/analytical chemistry from Duke University and has completed postdoctoral research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and University College London.

Smith’s research interests include studying condition issues affecting modern polymers used in art, pigment degradation processes, preservation environments, and the development and testing of innovative conservation treatments. He also has performed archaeological fieldwork in Galilee, Israel, serving as field chemist and supervisor on two excavations.

Smith has authored numerous articles for journals in the fields of chemistry and conservation, and is an avid speaker on the interface between the Arts and the Sciences. For these efforts he was recognized in 2018 with the national award for Conservation Advocacy from the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). He is a Professional Associate of the (AIC), associate editor for the Institute's professional journal, and an executive board member of the local section of the American Chemical Society. 


The Conservation Science lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields offers unpaid academic year and summer internship opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates in conservation science. Interns participate in ongoing research projects focused on understanding the degradation of artists materials, studying new methods of conservtion, or developing novel analytical strategies for artwork. Interns are exposed to and participate in technical studies of museum objects undergoing conservation or art historical investigation. In addition, IMA's Project MUSE: MUseum Sabbatical Experience for Faculty Teaching at the Arts-Science Interface allows chemistry professors the opportunity to spend 3-6 months onsite conducting arts-based scientific research or technical studies of the collections. Visiting Project MUSE fellows are provided free housing in the museum's furnished Scholar's Residence. Intereseted students or faculty should contact Dr. Gregory Smith to discuss research possibilities and availability