Decoys x-rayed: What volume rad tomography and computed tomography contribute: Technical study

Nancy Ravenel


This paper will examine some of the issues of adapting medical radiography to the examination of wooden artifacts, and explore and compare the usefulness of two three-dimensional radiological techniques, volume rad tomography and computed tomography, for revealing tool marks and marks within joints on wild fowl decoys in Shelburne Museum’s collection. While digital radiography equipment has become more affordable to museums, the price tag still is out of reach for smaller labs. The conservators at Shelburne Museum turn to the radiological technologists at the University of Vermont Medical Center Hospital to assist with non-destructive examination of composite objects and paintings. Because of their size, decoys are well suited for transport from the museum to the hospital for study. At the University of Vermont Medical Center, the equipment the technologists use to take standard radiographs for the conservators also can be used for volume rad tomography, rendering the technique more accessible and convenient than computed tomography which requires separate scheduling. The advantages and disadvantages of each technique will be explored.