The Tuttomondo mural in Pisa was one of the last works painted by Keith Haring before his death in 1990, Source: Darren and Brad, on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

University of Pisa leads a project to save street art with the help of drones

University of Pisa leads a project to save street art with the help of drones

Many murals are increasingly gaining the status of cultural heritage

PRIN-2020 SuperStar is the name of an innovative project conceived by researchers from the University of Pisa with the aim of devising new techniques and methodologies to conserve valuable works of street art. The post-modern and very urban art form has started to get more serious recognition in recent years as time passes by and now some of the older murals are viewed as priceless pieces of cultural heritage.

The name SuperStar is supposedly an acronym for the full name of the project, which is Sustainable Preservation Strategies for Street Art. Its aim is to apply a scientific approach to conservation given the specific context that most street art is to be found in.

Unlike other artworks, it is not safely stowed away in collections, museums or galleries but is rather exposed to the natural elements on the street. Things like weather and climate conditions, air pollution or human interaction are significant contributors to the quicker rate of degradation of such artworks.

Art exposed to the environment

Drones studying wall paintings closely in a non-invasive way, innovative cleaning systems with green materials, protective treatments optimized to defend street artworks from vandalism and aggressive environmental factors. These are some of the interventions planned by the project organizers.

The initiative has already started on 22 March and is expected to last for 3 years. It will be officially presented to the public today, 12 April, at an online streamed event. SuperStar is led by a team from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Piza, which has already worked on restoring the famous Tuttomondo mural in Pisa, by the late American street artist Keith Haring.

The project aims to develop innovative methodologies to study and preserve street artworks, starting from the composition of the materials and the degradation processes analyzed using artificial ageing methods and simulations in a special "rain chamber".

The planned phases of the project will start from the identification of case studies in collaboration with the Municipalities of Milan, Turin and Pisa.



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