Thousands of visitors visit everyday museums all over the world to admire works or art made by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Dürer and other great painters. Colours seem to glow for hundreds of years, although these exquisite works of art are in danger: air, light, humidity and unsuccessful painting conservation might damage their material: varnish coating peels off, colours lose their brightness. Physicists and art conservators are engaged in a race against time and decay.
In the first stage, specialists analyze old paintings using high technology methods in order to decode the colours, the materials used, layers of paint and previous painting conservation attempts. Then, art conservators, like Axel Burner from the Alte Meister picture gallery in Dresden, take action. They decide which colours should be used on the decaying parts: modern, synthetic colours or the colours used by the great painters?