“Under the Skin: Looking at Historic Paints,” a Lecture by Dr. Susan Buck

Raleigh, NC
Thursday September 15
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Please join the Joel Lane Museum House and the North Carolina Museum of History for Dr. Buck’s presentation, and learn about historic paint analysis and interpretation, and preservation of historic houses:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Many of us look at historic buildings and wonder what they looked like when they were first built. Paint analysis can provide important insights into original colors and finishes, and sometimes into original configurations. Highly magnified images of tiny samples taken from architecture, art and decorative arts materials offer substantive information about original decorations, and how they might have discolored and degraded over time. Using paint archaeology these “cross-section” samples can also reveal how architecture and objects have been deliberately altered or accidentally compromised.

There is so much more to learn about every possible form of art using reflected and transmitted light cross-section microscopy analysis techniques, and the brilliant images generated through the microscope can become their own form of art. This lecture will discuss how optical microscopy analysis has provided information about early exterior paints at the Joel Lane House, and about interior and exterior paints at other historic sites including Monticello, Mount Vernon, and the Owens-Thomas House in Savannah, Georgia.

In 2019, Dr. Susan Buck completed an analysis of the exterior paint of the Joel Lane Museum House that revolutionized their understanding of the early appearance of the structure. The dramatic restoration of the original 1760s dark red color, completed in 2020, was informed by that study.

About Susan L. Buck, Ph. D., Conservator and Paint Analyst:


Susan Buck completed M.S. in Art Conservation in 1991 from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and her Ph.D. in Art Conservation Research in 2003. Her dissertation “The Aiken-Rhett House: A Comparative Architectural Paint Study” won the University of Delaware Wilbur Owen Sypherd Prize for the outstanding doctoral dissertation in the Humanities. Her private conservation work now includes art and architectural paint and finish analysis projects for institutions including Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, MESDA, The Chipstone Foundation, Historic Deerfield, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, Stratford Hall, Historic Charleston Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Drayton Hall and the World Monuments Fund Qianlong Garden Conservation Project in The Forbidden City in Beijing.

The Museum Gift Shop will be open for this special evening event!

Tickets: FREE (suggested donation $20)

Call the Joel Lane Museum House (919-833-3431) or CLICK HERE to reserve your spot today, or to make a donation to support their work!

Dr. Buck discovered that the Joel Lane house was a vibrant red during her 2019 paint study.

This image shows a cross sample of the many layers of paint on the exterior of the Joel Lane house, dating back to the 1700s!