New ‘top coat’ B67 varnish produced with unique forensic signature
Unfortunately, it is a fact of modern life that, on occasion, valuable objects can be stolen from even the most secure Museums or, sometimes, substituted when out on loan for exhibitions. In these cases, as in all others, absolute proof of ownership is required to ensure repatriation and the knowledge that this is possible can act as a powerful deterrent.
However, we accept the principle within the mainstream Conservator community that any application to an artifact or museum object should be reversible, to ensure that it can be returned to its original state. So, to ensure that this principle is not compromised, while increasing the security of Museum objects, we have developed special ‘top coat’ varnish solutions, used in conjunction with traditional Indian ink on base coat protective varnish.
To illustrate, a Museum would be assigned a unique SmartWater forensic code for its exclusive use. The Conservator or Museum staff would apply the normal base coating, add the Indian ink catalog number, then apply the SmartWater top coat ‘fingerprinted’ forensic varnish over the top of a protective base coat.
However, it has to be accepted that the level of security provided by the traceability within the Museum’s SmartWater code would be limited in comparison to our more robust systems, consequently, a risk assessment needs to be undertaken to decide which approach to take e.g. in certain circumstances, does ‘retention trump conservation’?