Cover art for podcast Distillations | Science History Institute

Distillations | Science History Institute

294 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


Alchemy's Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation

This episode explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservators who save paintings from the ravages of time and accidental chemistry.

First we take an art field trip around Philadelphia as art historian and CHF fellow Elisabeth Berry Drago tries to paint like it's 1699. We visit a butcher shop, a tile store, and an art supply store to try to get what we need. 

Then we talk to art conservator Mark F. Bockrath and Elisabeth Berry Drago. They tell us about the messy and occasionally dangerous process of making paints from pigments and talk about the transition to using paint from tubes. They also explain the conservation process and tell us why alchemists were so important to painters in early modern times.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy

Guests: Mark F. Bockrath and Elisabeth Berry Drago

Reporter, Producer & Editor: Mariel Carr


"Pensacola Twilight," Lee Rosevere -

"Do What You Can," Lee Rosevere -

"Backtime," Lee Rosevere -

"Stardust," Phonotrash -

"Sunny Day," The Rabbits -

"Wonder Cycle," Chris Zabriskie -

"Nia," Dubh Thrian -

"Tragic," Semyon -

"Converge to Some Centre," We Are All Alone -

"First," Overlake -

"The Plaintive Heating Griddle," Ergo Phizmiz -

"Stabbings," Moby -


Check out Distillations magazine at, where you'll find articles, videos, and our podcast.

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