Francesca Casadio directs the Art Institute of Chicago’s state-of-the-art conservation science laboratory. A chemist by training, she is in charge of planning and carrying out research to help preserve and study the museum’s paintings, drawings, textiles and other works of art. She has also founded and co-directs a collaborative program in conservation science with Northwestern University, which harnesses the university’s cutting-edge scientific techniques and expertise to address problems of interest to the museum community.
Casadio received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from the University of Milan in Italy. She established the conservation science lab as the museum’s first A.W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist in 2003. In 2006, she and her collaborator at Northwestern, Richard Van Duyne, were awarded the L’Oréal Art and Science of Color Silver Prize for using a new technique in spectroscopy to identify minuscule amounts of the red colorants used in old paintings.