Black Light on Bacchus: Inside a UV Exam

Since Bacchus left the galleries last year, he’s been under intense scrutiny. Recently the sculpture was examined under ultraviolet light (black light). Not only does this make Bacchus look very cool— it also tells us if there are surface anomalies and gives us more information about the joins between the ancient and the baroque fragments.

Under UV the restoration materials fluoresce in different colors: dark purple for more recent restorations, bright yellow-green for older ones. And we caught it all on video…

Ultraviolet fluorescence is only one of the examinations we’ll conduct on Bacchus before we continue with the derestoration process. We need to further understand how he was put together before we can take him apart. There is more coming about the Bacchus Conservation Project, so stay tuned! Next time, we’ll tell you how Bacchus and his friend Hercules fared with the gamma rays…

Learn more about why we are taking Bacchus apart.

The NCMA’s composite sculpture of “Bacchus” undergoing ultraviolet examination
Caroline Rocheleau
Caroline Rocheleau is director of research and curator of ancient art at the NCMA.

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