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Microbial Deterioration of Works of Art: An Interdisciplinary Approach in the Criminology Museum of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

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In museum and archives’ collection environments fungi are a critical artefact biodeterioration factor, whereas most infections are airborne. Poor ventilation and non-homogeneous temperature can produce water condensation points and local micro-climates. These circumstances favour some fungal species activity in specific museum areas. Typical fungal infections in museums, colonizing paper made documents, are caused by species of slow-growing Ascomycetes as well as mitosporic xerophilic fungi of the genera Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium. In this study, a non-invasive method of biodeterioration diagnosis was applied to selected paper artefacts using contact plate sampling. The study was implemented in the exhibits of the Criminology Museum at National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, under the interscientific collaboration of the Museum and the Department Conservation of Antiquities & Works of Art ,University of West Attica. Two fungal species belonging to different genera were isolated from the in-case environment. Aspergillus niger appeared to be the most dominant fungus with maximum number of colonies on SDA medium. Teaching staff, undergraduate students, and postgraduate students have been involved in the project, which furthered both the students' academic education and the museum's collection care.

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