ICCROM Register of Heritage Samples Archives
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OPD Collection of Cross- and Thin-Sections

Type Collection

Date of creation of the archive


Date of closure of the archive


Creator(s) of the archive

Mauro Matteini, former head of the Scientific Laboratory of the Opificio

Summary Description

The cross- and thin-sections archive stores a huge number of samples (embedded in resin and polished) since the 1970s. The related metadata and analytical reports are stored in the Scientific Archive of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (OPD): They contain information of the artefact where the samples are taken from, the scope of the analysis, the techniques used (photographs with the microscope for the old samples, and electronic microscope with microprobe, micro FTIR, stain tests, micro Raman from the 1990s onwards), the raw data and the final reports with comments and interpretation. The samples are related to conservation and study projects of the Opificio related to paintings, paper and parchment, wooden sculptures, mural paintings and plasterworks, stone works, metal objects, textiles, tapestries, mosaics, wax, ceramics, glass and maiolicas. Artefacts from which the samples come from (about 2 300) include archaeological items from Italian sites, Medieval and Renaissance objects from Italian collections, and pieces of modern and contemporary art. Part of the data and documentation is not in digital form. Language used is Italian.


Type and number of units
15 400 cross- and thin- sections from about 2 300 artefacts

Object type


Material type

Building related material
Ceramic, glass, enamel
Non-cellular natural organics
Organic synthethic material
Textile, fabric, dyes

Geographic Distribution

Italy (mainly)

Statement of Significance

The Opificio delle Pietre Dure (OPD) is a public organization aimed at the conservation and restoration of artefacts. Many kinds of materials are treated in its conservation departments. The Scientific Archive includes samples collection, data, reports, and historical reconstructions. The samples were taken from Italian artefacts (collections and sites) for scientific investigation aimed at supporting the conservation work and/or at enhancing the knowledge about technical aspects of processes and materials of the past. The collection of thin- and cross sections samples represents a unique corpus for its documentary value and research potential, as they are complemented by information on the context, method and rationale of sampling, photos and description. Giving access to this collection is a responsible way to limit the removal of further material from unique artefacts, guide the application of non-invasive techniques, and integrate the information gained with new analyses.


Yes - upon request

Access requirements

Access is provided upon request to the Opificio official contact (opd@cultura.gov.it). The applicant is required to explain the reason of the access, the material she/he is interested in (metadata, scientific data, cross-sections). Criteria applied are the absence of a specific embargo on requested data and samples (for example, for a pending publication or for an explicit prohibition of the owner of the artefact). The user is requested to sign an agreement on data (archive data and newly created data) use. In case new analyses are requested, optical microscopy observations and documentation can be carried out in the Opificio premises. Other analyses (SEM, FTIR, Raman) may be done only in the framework of a collaboration agreement of the two parties.

Type of users

Scholars, students, professionals, artists


Art History
Conservation Science
History of technology
Technical art history

Finding aids


External link