Science at the Interface with Art

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Science at the Interface with Art *

Lynnette D. Madsen, Zeev Rosenzweig, Kelsey D. Cook, Michael J. Scott and Amy M. Jacobson National Science Foundation, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230, U.S.A. ABSTRACT The Cultural Heritage Science (CHS, formerly SCIART) Program seeks to enhance opportunities for chemistry and materials research at the interface between science and art. The objective is to promote collaboration between cultural heritage scientists, mainly located in US museums and chemists and/or materials scientists in US academic institutions to address grand challenges in the science of cultural heritage. Through the first competition, eight projects, two to three years in duration, were funded at $270,000 to 495,000 each. Every successful proposal demonstrated a clear need for collaboration with good synergy between the collaborating groups, and provided plans for meaningful training experiences for students and/or postdoctoral researchers in the field of cultural heritage science. It is anticipated that the CHS Program will continue for two additional years in a similar fashion. During this period, researchers should be able to more easily identify the disciplinary programs in materials research or chemistry relevant to their work, and their proposals will be reviewed together in panels. Proposals falling outside of the CHS specifications may be submitted directly to the relevant program/s of interest at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as unsolicited proposals. After the CHS Program ends, unsolicited proposals will remain the key mechanism for obtaining NSF funding in this research area. INTRODUCTION Through the years, art has been instrumental in depicting science and deepening our scientific understanding, as evidenced in numerous reports (e.g., Visualization: A Way to See the Unseen), contests (e.g., the annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge), solicitations (such as National Science Foundation (NSF) 10-538: Innovations in Biological Imaging and Visualization) and funding programs (Foundations of Data and Visual Analytics). The reverse has also been true – science has been used to date, understand, conserve and preserve art and other cultural heritage objects. In the US, most of NSF’s support in the area of cultural heritage has been through its Archaeology and Archaeometry Program in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Still, cultural heritage objects ranging from ancient artifacts to modern art objects can undergo dynamic chemical changes over time, respond to environmental conditions and stimuli and eventually degrade and break down. There is a clear role for NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate in funding basic research to understand the complexity and dynamic behavior at the molecular level of cultural heritage materials. MPS  *

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