Microbiology for Our Cultural Heritage


  • Paul Raschle EMPA Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, Microbiology for Civil Engineering and Conservation of Monuments, P.O.Box, CH-9014 St. Gallen




Biodeterioration, Conservation


Microbiology investigates different microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae and can analyze these organisms and their effect as biodeteriogens. Any microbially caused damage is strictly the result of microbial growth and microbial metabolism.
After the diagnosis of a given situation, microbiology for the protection of our cultural heritage often has to set a prognosis regarding future ageing. Laboratory simulation experiments can help to provide answers to such questions. Different materials can be tested for their durability and resistance against bio-attack. Microbial growth results from the presence of organisms, availability of nutrients and favorable climatic conditions. Based on the analysis of the situation and taking further ageing into consideration, the need to intervene by conservation methods may be discussed. Chemical or physical methods can be applied to influence the natural durability and the deterioration process.
Not only the use of chemical preservatives but also the presence of microbial mats can present a health risk for the restorer, conservator and science consultant.
After the introduction (analysis, prognosis, and remedial treatment or conservation) some case studies are used to show the many possibilities of microbiology.






Scientific Articles