Science Laboratory at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation


When assessing a historical object, you will look at material makeup, method of production or artistic techniques used and areas of damage or deterioration. The use of analytical technologies in conservation is needed to understand the object's condition in order to make the most informed choice when deciding on a conservation or restoration process.

Students have the opportunity to work in well-equipped professional workshops and studios with access seven days a week, 8.30am to 9pm. Workshops include specialist equipment and facilities such as the forge, pottery and photography areas.

Take a virtual tour of our workshops and campus

Science Equipment and Analytical Laboratory

The laboratory was significantly expanded in 2019, and the facilities have been developed for their application to materials commonly treated in the School of Conservation, for students' use for practical treatments and academic research.

  • Tensometer
  • FTIR Spectrometer is a top range tool applicable to both organic and inorganic material, often the first choice for identification of the generic type of a sample.
  • Portable X-ray Fluorescence (PXRF) Spectrometer enables identification of the majority of elements and is particularly useful for establishing components of metals, alloys, pigments and impurities in organic materials.
  • Fluorescence Microscope enables optical identification of components of small cross-sections, through selective illumination and reflectance, and also has a polarising function and digital image capture facility.
  • Visible Light Spectrometer gives an industry-standard measure of the reflected colour of a surface and is particularly useful for comparing and quantifying colour changes in ageing and degradation studies.
  • UV-visible Spectrometer measures the absorbance of both ultraviolet and visible radiation; changes in absorbance in this region can be used to monitor and predict the degradation of materials and its rate.

The equipment is used to perform analytical techniques commonly used in the heritage sector, so students will graduate with a familiarity with their general applications.


The dedicated Arts and Conservation Library gives you access to approximately 12,700 books, including e-books and 70 print and digital journals. The library has subscriptions to a number of online databases. The collection covers not only the areas of Arts and Conservation but also relates to teaching and research of the College. Subject and enquiry support is available from the library team and study skill support is also available via a Study Skills tutor.

Also available on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is a library homepage which provides access to a range of useful sources of information relating to our service including study skills material. The library offers an inter-library loan service.

Read more about the School of Conservation