John Fredrich Asmus

1990 Laureate, Cultural Heritage
United States, Born 1937

Project Goal

Develop laser techniques to clean and restore colour to China's ancient terracotta army

Location: China

"By exploiting the unique attributes of a laser and controlling the device’s wavelength, energy and pulse length, I had developed a versatile conservation method that was selective, non-destructive and environmentally friendly."

Over the past 40 years, John Asmus’ life has taken many unexpected turns. Initially involved in nuclear propulsion in space, Asmus moved on to become one of the world’s foremost high-tech art conservators whose work has embraced such diverse artistic treasures as the Mona Lisa and China’s ancient terracotta army.


age of Leonardo da Vinci's The Battle of Anghiari


weight, in kilograms, of Jay DeFeo's The Rose


age of entombed warriors cleaned and restored by Asmus


members of Lasers for the Conservation of Art, an international laser restoration society

Other 1990 Laureates