Saving The Scream


Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream (ca. 1910) is often described as the ultimate expression of the anxiety-ridden existence of modern man, but after more than 110 years, this evocative artwork is showing its age. The degradation is especially severe in areas where Munch used cadmium-sulphide (CdS)-based pigments, and the painting has become so delicate that it is rarely exhibited, remaining instead in a protected storage area in the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. An international team led by researchers at the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy have now used a combination of in-situ non-invasive spectroscopic and synchrotron X-ray techniques to show that moisture is the main cause of the degradation. According to the Munch Museum’s Irina Crina Anca Sandu, the team’s work could help conservation experts develop new conservation strategies to better preserve this and other works of art.

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