March 5, 2008 Experts To Discuss Hyperspectral Imaging and the Waldseemuller World Map

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Preservation Directorate (202) 707-5213

Hyperspectral imaging is the process of taking digital photos of an object using distinct portions of the light spectrum. The process reveals what cannot be seen by the human eye. Preservation experts will discuss the history and development of such conservation-safe imaging and its recent application to the Waldseemüller 1507 World Map. Roger Easton, a professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Fenella G. France, a visiting scientist in the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress, will present the lecture from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, March 14, at the Library in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The presentation, titled “Hyperspectral Imaging of the Waldseemüller 1507 World Map: The Development of Hyperspectral Imaging and Its Application to Preservation Issues,” is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Library’s Preservation Directorate, the event is the 30th lecture in the “Topics in Preservation Science” series. The Waldseemüller 1507 World Map is the first document on which the name “America” appears on a separated and full Western Hemisphere. In December 2007, the map went on permanent exhibition at the Library of Congress in the Northwest Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building, as part of the “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition. Just prior to the map’s enclosure in an argon-filled encasement, the Preservation Directorate undertook the hyperspectral imaging of all 12 sheets of the map as part of a preservation analysis. Hyperspectral imaging uses distinct narrow wavelength band regions of the spectrum, from ultraviolet through visible to infrared, as opposed to multi-spectral imaging that uses a few broad wavelength bands. Hyperspectral images tell conservators different things about the properties of an item. There has been intense interest in the application of hyperspectral imaging to issues of preservation for items of cultural heritage. Easton and others have used it to analyze a range of significant artifacts, including the Archimedes Palimpsest (a medieval parchment manuscript), the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khaboris Codex, which is the oldest-known copy of the New Testament. Easton received a bachelor’s degree in astronomy from Haverford College, a master’s degree in physics from the University of Maryland and master’s and doctorate’s degrees in optical sciences from the University of Arizona. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, Easton teaches undergraduate and graduate course in linear systems, optical imaging and digital-image processing. His research interests include the application of digital-image processing to text documents and manuscripts, optical-signal processing and computer-generated holography. France received an MBA from Deakin University in Australia and a doctorate from Otago University in New Zealand. She was the research scientist for the Star-Spangled Banner project at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. She is an international specialist on protein aging and object deterioration and focuses on links between mechanical properties and chemical changes from environmental damage. France has worked as an independent research scientist on projects such as the World Trade Center artifacts, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Andean mummies. For more information on “Topics in Preservation Science” lecture series, visit


PR 08-046
ISSN 0731-3527