Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Art Conservation, M.A., C.A.S.


Art Conservation Department


Fiona Beckett

Department Home page

First Reader

Dr. Glennis Rayermann

Second Reader

Jiuan Jiuan Chen

Third Reader

Dr. Rebecca Ploeger


Painted flags and banners lie at the intersection of painting and textile conservation. The 37th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment’s battle flag from the Civil War presented challenges and advantages of bridging the two disciplines by providing an opportunity for study and experimentation for a graduate student from the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State College. This study was conducted to better understand the materials and degradation products present in a painted Civil War flag, which then informed the subsequent treatment of said flag. By characterizing the materials, the severe damage in the painted areas on the silk was explained. Overall, areas of the flag were documented with multi-modal imaging (MMI) and observed using microscopy on cross sections. The elements present in the silk and the paint were identified using a combination of x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy identified components of the materials. Raman was used to further identify pigments where FTIR was inconclusive. Pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS) was used to confirm the identity of organic materials within the painted regions. The conservation treatment of the flag was dominated by experimentation of techniques to establish a workflow, so future students may be able to complete the treatment. The milestones achieved to date include successfully unfurling and flattening the flag with the aid of humidification, providing recommendations for future humidification, and establishing treatment protocols for stain reduction, efflorescence reduction, and consolidation.

Available for download on Sunday, April 28, 2024