Department of Research was founded in 2006 on the basis of one of the oldest museum radiography laboratories in Russia that exists since 1961. X-ray radiography in studying works of art has a long history. The first X-ray images of paintings were made in Europe only a couple of years after the discovery of x-rays by a German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895. X-ray radiography allows us to see through the pant and base layers of the painting. Using this technique, curators and conservators discover the technical side of art and how it varied through different eras, countries, and artistic movements. This method helps us gather the most valuable information about the paintings and what has been happening to them during their long life, as well as evaluate the state of preservation of the original images and the amount of inpaints made my previous restorations.
The method of taking photographs in UV and IR lights is also one of the basics for pre-conservation studies and it is widely used in museum conservation. Taking photographs in reflected IR rays which can penetrate all the layers of paint helps find hidden images, see the original drawings and often get clearer images of old inscriptions, faded with time. Photographing and studying art pieces in visible UV rays give art conservators an opportunity to evaluate the state of preservation of a painting's varnished surface, see the inpaints made during previous restorations that can often distort the original look of a piece.
In more than 50 years of its existence the department collected an extensive research base consisting of x-ray images, special photographs, as well as physical and chemical research data on pieces from the Museum collections. No complex restoration process is possible without documented studies and research, and oftentimes it requires addressing already existing data. The museum laboratory performs physical and chemical research in collaboration with the largest conservation centres, museums, and research institutions of Russia and the world.