Conservation Science Laboratory

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields has constructed an approximately 3,000 square foot state-of-the-art analytical and research laboratory for the study of artists’ materials. This facility is 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 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 at 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. Smith’s academic and professional career is distinguished consistently with honors and awards, including a Marshall Sherfield Postdoctoral Scholarship to study in Britain, National Science Foundation Research Fellowships, and a Barry M. Goldwater Science Scholarship. 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. He is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), associate editor for the AIC’s professional journal, a member of the AIC Education and Training Committee, and a former Chair of the AIC Research & Technical Studies Specialty Group.


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 conservations science. Interns will participate in ongoing research projects focused on understanding the degradation of artists materials, studying new methods of conservation, or developing novel analytical strategies for artwork. Interns will also be exposed to and participate in technical studies of museum objects undergoing conservation or art historical investigation. Interested students should contact Dr. Gregory Smith to discuss possibilities prior to applying to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields' general internship program.

Recent interns include both university and high school students. Kwame Newton and Daniella Ash, both American Chemical Society Project SEED scholars, conducted materials-based research during the summer of 2011. Kwame’s project focused on a novel approach to preparing matte paint samples for analysis by infrared microscopy while Daniella researched the effect of solvents on thermoplastic polymers commonly used in art conservation.

Butler University student Maraya Baumanis joined the lab team for the Fall 2011 semester to earn course credit in physical chemistry. Maraya is exploring evaporation rates of cleaning solvents from painted surfaces using techniques like gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, gravimetry, and FTIR spectroscopy.