Why do art lovers need to CT scan their statues?


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: 

  • restoration;
  • 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. 


In Paris • June 2013
In Paris • June 2013