"Invisible" technology: experimental efforts to protect the works held in the Civic Museums of Udine

The masterpieces on which the new anti-counterfeiting system will be tested include over one hundred works by Ascanio di Brazzà and an etching by Tiepolo.

An invisible, counterfeit-proof mark to protect the works of the Civic Museums of Udine: in order to protect its artistic heritage, the municipal administration of Friuli’s capital has chosed “Invisible”, an innovative anti-counterfeiting technology developed by Elettra – Sincrotrone Trieste. An agreement with the research institution, presented today, 26 June during a press conference at Casa della Contadinanza in Udine, will make it possible to use a safe, cutting-edge system to catalogue and preserve the collections held in Udine’s museums. This new technique consists of applying to the various works a mark that is invisible to the naked eye, and which does not affect the works themselves in any way. This identifying mark can only be seen when lit by a light beam of the correct wavelenght. The marks can be applied directly or indirectly to the works. In the latter case, the mark is placed on a special support and subsequently applied. This is a non-invasive, completely invisible method, and is traceable exclusively upon request, because only the person who applied the mark knows its exact position. All of these characteristics make “Invisible” an effective anti-counterfeiting system, since it makes it possible to tell original works from counterfeit copies without a shadow of a doubt.
“Udine has historically been home to the Faculty of Conservation of Cultural Heritage – points out Udine’s mayor Furio Honsell – and this is one more reason why we are very glad for the opportunity to use this new, important experimental tool by Sincrotrone. It is an excellent example of how cutting-edge technology and the promotion and enjoyment of works of art can go hand in hand”. The agreement with the Municipality of Udine concerns over one hundred works by Ascanio di Brazzà: 89 drawings, 12 prints, 3 oil paintings on canvas, and a sculpture. One of Tiepolo’s masterpieces is also on this list, the etching “Two magicians and a child”, inventoried in the Drawings and Prints cabinet of the Civic Museums. “The goal is to use this new technology to protect the most important works held in the Civic Museums– explains Councillor for Culture Luigi Reitani –. It is an excellent opportunity to guarantee the uniqueness of even the smallest items, such as coins”. The technique, designed in collaboration with Area Science Park, is based on a phenomenon that was well-known as early as the 1950s: “the creation of color centres in alkali halide crystals using ionizing radiation”. The key ingredient used by Sincrotrone Trieste’s researchers for the production of the marks is lithium flouride. Once activated by sincrotron radiation, it becomes an invisible pigment that can be used to make marks or codes, which do not damage the surface they are applied to in any way, and which can be removed without problems, but only by the person that applied them.
“Today’s meeting – adds Alfonso Franciosi, CEO of Sincrotrone Trieste – not only gives us an opportunity to be astounded by the output of this research, but even more importantly it shows how the best results are often the product of a multidisciplinary approach and the union of different skills and worlds that are all-too-often considered distant from one another ”.
After patenting its invention, Sincrotrone Trieste reached a formal agreement with the regional directorate for cultural and landscape heritage, and established a protocol for future work.
This technique has already been succesfull experimented with on a wide variety of items: coins, jewels, paintings, and even historical documents. For instance, the “Invisible” technology – the object of numerous patents between 2007 and 2009 - has been used to mark Roman-era coins and other items from various museums in Friuli Venezia Giulia, such as those in Cividale and Aquileia.  

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2018 11:54