In June of 2021, the laser cleaning program of the Acropolis Museum sculptures from pollution encrustations was completed. In its 15-year duration, 70 sculptures and fragments were treated, mainly architectural sculptures from the Parthenon the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike. The methodology used was the same employed for the cleaning of the Parthenon’s west frieze by the Acropolis Monuments Restoration Service (YSMA) in 2002-2005. A prototype laser cleaning system was developed by the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) in Crete, to cover the specific needs of the program. This is a specially modified Nd:YAG system, emitting at the fundamental (1064nm) and third harmonic (355nm) frequencies. The two beams are spatially and temporally overlapped while they can be used separately or in combination. The ability to adjust the proportions between the two actions allows the safe removal of the surface deposits, without altering the ancient surfaces. In 2012, the International Institute for Conservation (IIC) awarded the Acropolis Museum and the IESL-FORTH of Crete with the Keck Award for providing visitors the opportunity to observe the conservation and the cleaning process of the Karyatids.

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