At times, a conservator needs to take a sample from an object. In accordance with the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Guidelines for Practice, conservators will sample as infrequently as possible, taking microscopic samples and documenting where these samples originated. 

Samples can inform the conservator about the stratigraphy of a painting, showing the application process a painter might have used. Conservators can also refer to samples for technical analysis with instrumentation such as the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) machine to determine elemental composition of a material.

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