How the Smithsonian Preserves Gold Artworks

Emily Jacobson works as a paper conservator at the Freer and Sackler. In this video, Emily explains how to study and conserve gold used in Islamic manuscripts, such as Qur'ans found in our collections.

Gold was used in two different forms- either in leaf or as paint- to decorate Islamic manuscripts. In this detail of gold used to decorate a Qur’an page you can see the differences between leaf and paint. Gold leaf is a thin sheet of gold that is applied on top of adhesive, allowed to dry, brushed away, and then burnished. Gold paint is made from leaf that has been ground into the adhesive first and then painted on with a brush.

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