Project Details Chemistry Education and Cultural Heritage - a Special Issue of Chemistry Teacher International

Project No.:
Start Date:
29 November 2021
End Date:


To demonstrate to high school and university teachers the crucial links that exist between chemistry education and cultural heritage through a series of articles in Chemistry Teacher International.

These articles will be solicited from cultural heritage scientists located in several different countries throughout the world, including Canada, U.S.A., U.K., France, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, China and Australia.


UNSECO has formally defined “cultural heritage” as the entire corpus of materials signs –either artistic or symbolic– handed on by the past to each culture and, therefore, to the whole of humankind [1]. The preservation of the cultural heritage for a country includes such things as works of art, architecture and the signs and symbols passed on by oral transmission, artistic and literary forms of expression, languages, ways of life, myths, beliefs and rituals, value systems and traditional knowledge, and know how. Many countries are now providing considerable resources to preserve their cultural heritage. Chemistry plays a vital role in all aspects of physical cultural heritage work, especially with respect to the conservation and restoration of paintings and other artefacts. Chemical imaging and the improved capabilities of spectroscopic and other analytical techniques contribute enormously to the field [2-4]. It is a field that chemistry students are already being introduced to during their coursework [5] and in which IUPAC is already heavily involved [6]. Most national museums now have conservation laboratories that are open to the public and there are numerous conferences annually dedicated to the cultural heritage field. For example, just prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were over 100 events featuring various aspects cultural heritage planned, including seminars, congresses, workshops, etc [7]. Career paths in conservation and restoration are opening up to undergraduate and graduate students, especially those who have combined Chemistry and Art History in their studies [8].

1. Extracted from J. Jikilehto, “Definitions of Cultural History: References to Documents in History, ICCROM Working Group ‘Heritage and Society”, January 15, 2005. Note: ICCROM is the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.
2. E. Badea. Chemistry for Cultural Heritage: Connecting Past and Future”, Heritage Sci., 7, article no. 99 (2019).
3. L. Betrand et al., Deciphering the Chemistry of Cultural Heritage: Targeting Material Properties by Coupling Spectral Imaging with Image Analysis, Acc. Chem. Res. 54(13), 2823-2832 (2021).
4. N. Laskaris et al., “Chemistry for Cultural Heritage”, Heritage, Special Issue planned for 2022.
5. R. Horikoshi, “Teaching Introductory Chemistry Through World Cultural History”, Chem. Teacher Internat., 20190023 (2020).
6. M. J. Melo et al., “Chemistry and Cultural Heritage”, Chem. Int., 40(2), 205 (2018).
7. See Access: August 9, 2020.
8. I. S. Butler, “Undergraduate Chemistry Research in Art Forensics”, 24th IUPAC International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE2016), Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, August 15-20, 2016.


Jan 2022 update – A call for submission has been released. If you are interested in contributing to this Special Issue, please send a provisional title, together with the name and email address of the submitting author to one of the guest editors (here task group chair and members, or see announcement). The deadline for submission is August 31, 2022, and the special issue will be published in late 2022 or early 2023.

Page last updated 19 Jan 2022