The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 3
Jun 1990

Crime Scenes and Conservation

Charles Tumosa, whose new appointment as Head of Analytical Services at the Conservation Analytical Lab was announced in the last issue (unhappily with his last name spelled wrong), spoke at the Washington Conservation Guild's May 3 meeting an "Crime Scenes and Conservation," or the cmmon ground between forensic science and conservation. He has kindly provided this Newsletter with an abstract of his talk, reproduced below.

Perhaps one of the more interesting mental exercises that can be done is the apparent reconciliation of two very disparate ideas. The linking of crime scenes with the attendant images of blood and gore to the rather staid and often tedious work of conservation would seem to be impossible. However common themes run throughout both. The comparison of these seemingly different events is the approach taken in describing the last 18 years of my career in forensic science and the past several months of the introduction to my "new" career in conservation science.

The protocols of conservation and forensic science both require that the object to be conserved or the scene to be investigated each be documented fully to preserve information for later use or comparison. The most desirable analyses are nondestructive and are often visual, relying heavily on the experience and skills of the observer/documenter.

The tools of conservation are the sane as those of crime scene investigation: the identification and characterization of materials by light microscopy, wet chemical testing as well as instrumental techniques; the physical manipulation of the objects to preserve the object at that moment in time and to record that object in the context of its time and relationship to other objects.

A series of "cases" was examined and the parallels between conservation and forensic science explored.

The concerns of both professions are also the same, notably fidelity and integrity.

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