You are currently viewing Fabrics suitable for the conservation of works of art – Oddy Test
art exhibition

Museums and exhibition halls use textiles to preserve their works of art or as a medium on which to present the various valuable objects they wish to display to the public.

To ensure that such precious objects are properly preserved, it must be ensured that the fabrics on which they are placed do not react with the materials of which they are composed.

The Oddy Test is a procedure created at the British Museum in London by conservation scientist William Andrew Oddy in 1973, and subsequently improved by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to test materials in and around works of art.

At Textil Batavia we have developed two fabrics that have passed the Oddy test: a standard 100% cotton fabric (Ducal Pique 290 g/m2 natural white) and a 100% polyester fireproof fabric (Duero Canvas 200 g/m2 natural white).

This test is performed because, although fabrics may be safe for the purposes for which they are manufactured, they may emit small amounts of chemicals in the form of gas, which can damage the valuables they come into contact with over time. Therefore, in order to guarantee their perfect conservation, it is obligatory to test and evaluate these fabrics.

The principle on which the Oddy test is based is the corrosion of metals in the presence of high temperature and high relative humidity, and of oxidizing gases coming from the materials to be tested.

The test consists of putting together, in a hermetically sealed container, the material to be tested and three samples in the form of metal tabs (copper, silver and lead), for 28 days at 100% relative humidity and a temperature of 60ºC. After this period, the metals are analysed and conclusions are drawn on the basis of the corrosion elements that have appeared.

The test is made with the three metals mentioned above (silver, chrome and lead), but any other metal that is also sensitive to contamination, such as aluminium or zinc, can be added to the test.