What could materials science possibly have to do with revealing an artist's intentions? Intriguingly, art institutions and museums around the world are using a panoply of analysis techniques familiar to any materials scientist to reveal vital and previously hidden information about works of art. We often assume that a painting or statue we are looking at in a gallery or museum is just as it was when the artist created it. But thanks to the rigors of time, artifacts and paintings may deteriorate in subtle or not so subtle ways that can alter our perception of those works, as well as our understanding of their place in history. Or an artist may have reworked or even painted over a piece.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70237-2