General learning objectives
• Students find out what UV light is;
• Students learn about Vincent van Gogh;
• Students see how conservator-restorers use UV light to examine works of art;
• Students learn how to make a UV light;
• Students discover what fluorescence is and which materials fluoresce;
• Students use UV to examine overpainting in their own work.
A curious, inquisitive attitude is required for the conservation and management of art and also for science and technology in general. This lesson is part of the Masterminds & Masterpieces series and makes use of the cross-curricular added value of inquiry-based learning (experimenting, trying out, looking, comparing, etc.). Masterminds & Masterpieces is a collaboration between the Van Gogh Museum and ASML.
Connection to the curriculum
- This lesson is connected to the subjects Physics and Science.
Materials required for the experiment
- heavy-duty drawing or painting paper (not copy paper, which already contains UV ink, so the experiment won’t work)
- colouring pencils (not watercolour pencils or markers)
- UV ink (to dilute: 2 parts of water to 1 part ink)
- acrylic paints
- a UV light, DIY or readymade (365nm)
When using the UV light, you need to have a room that’s as dark as possible.
Students are warned during the lesson never to shine UV light, or any other kind of light, into their own or other people’s eyes.
Materials required to make the UV light
- sticky tape, scissors, rulers
- per student:
- ice-lolly stick
- two strips of self-adhesive copper tape (10 cm)
- UV LED lightbulb
- battery (button cell)
- foldback clip
- This lesson can be taught in conjunction with the lesson UV – Van Gogh’s enemy?
- Students can build their own UV light, but can also work with a readymade one.
- The various parts of the lesson can be used as separate assignments, spread out over a number of moments during the day or week.