Early applications of chemical and physical analytical methods in studies on art materials and archaeological objects demonstrated that scientific investigation is an essential tool for acquiring information on the materials that make up an artwork and for assessing their decay, in order to plan restoration approaches. Chemical diagnosis, together with the investigation carried out by historians, archaeologists and art experts, is a valuable contribution to help identify the materials in paintings and ancient artefacts, as well as their state of conservation.
The development of scientific procedures that are able to use very minute samples (a few micrograms), together with the increased availability of advanced analytical instrumentation, have led to great interest in the chemical study of materials used in cultural heritage. This has given rise to a sharp increase in research studies at the interface between art, archaeology, chemistry and the material sciences. As a result, successful multidisciplinary collaborations have flourished among researchers in museums, conservation institutions, universities and scientific laboratories.