The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation's work on the authentication of artwork evolved from studies which used securely provenanced works in the University of Melbourne Art Collection as the basis for the investigation of the materials and techniques used by Australian artists. Staff at Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation in collaboration with researchers in Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Art History, investigated a range of materials including pigments, supports, and varnishes. Studies have also been undertaken in frames used by Australian artists, and underdrawing in Australian paintings (See publications). Databases have been developed on a range of Australian artists including Rupert Bunny, William Strutt, Arthur Streeton, John Peter Russell, Rover Thomas, and Sidney Nolan. This work has informed enquiries from the public, collectors and the commercial art market relating to suspected problematic artwork.
Authentication study also involves an understanding of provenance and history, and research projects have resulted in the establishment of data bases that identify securely provenanced works in public institutions, and the catalogue records for prominent artists.
Researchers at Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation have access to advanced microscopy, and UV and IR examination techniques. Researchers in the Faculty of Science provide analytical expertise and access to equipment including SEM, FTIR, Raman, PIXE, XRD and XRF. Recently the Australian Synchrotron was also employed in an art authentication enquiry.
The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation delivers a course in authentication: Graduate Certificate in Art Authentication (archived 2008 event)