Art collectors usually request a CT scan when they are thinking of buying a costly old piece and want to protect their investment, as long as the analysis costs only a
fraction of the price of the piece.
The aim of the CT scan is to pick up any hidden defects:
- an assembly of disparate parts;
- or even forgery (for example: a fake Han Dynasty Dancer);
A CT scan can also be a way of dispelling doubts about the authenticity or integrity of a piece a collector has already bought, whether it is used on its own or in conjunction with other
scientific procedures such as thermoluminescence (TL) or carbon 14 dating.
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Art dealers also want to be sure that an old piece they are interested in is whole and authentic.
A CT scan can:
- confirm the accuracy of the dealer’s assessment of the quality of the objects he buys or sells;
- prove that his supplier can be trusted;
- show he cares about documenting the quality of his objects;
- reassure customers who hesitate or are suspicious because of bad experiences in the past.
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Museum curators also want to be sure they are making a good investment for their institutions but may also request a CT scan to:
- simulate the original state of a restored statue, without destroying it (e.g. a restored Mexican statue);
- estimate the extent of any conservation work required;
- compare it with similar works (corpus study, e.g. a series of Mangbetu jugs);
- reveal an earlier use (e.g. a Peruvian bottle) or any hidden content (e.g. a Yaka fetish);
- document the physical condition of the statue before lending or insuring it;
- prepare illustrations for a publication or exhibition, or for educational purposes.