AMSTERDAM (AP) — Researchers and restorers at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum launched a months-long project Monday, using high-tech imaging technology to throw new light on Rembrandt van Rijn's iconic "Night Watch."
Working in a specially designed glass chamber, researchers at the museum are undertaking a painstaking examination and restoration of the huge portrait of a 17th-century civil militia.
Art lovers around the world can follow the project online.
"This is the first time that we can actually make a full body scan and that we can discover which pigments he used not only through making little samples, but with scanning the entire surface," said the museum's general director, Taco Dibbits.
"We don't know much about how Rembrandt made this painting. And now we hope to discover more and really get a glimpse into the kitchen of the artist."
The 1642 painting last underwent significant restoration 40 years ago after it was slashed by a knife-wielding man, and it is starting to show blanching in parts of the canvas.
Before the latest restoration can begin, experts will photograph and scan the painting to evaluate its condition. They will build up a detailed digital picture by merging 12,000 separate images, as well as using X-ray technology to peer through the surface.
On Monday, a macro X-ray fluorescence scanner began taking a series of images, said Petria Noble, head of paintings conservation at the Rijksmuseum.
"Each type of technique will give us some information that we then need to put together and interpret all the information together and what that means for the painting." Noble said.