Day 1 — Monday, June 11 — Science

Development of the Munsell Color Order System

Imagine the difficulties of communicating a color change without precise definitions or physical examples. As a textile colorist, I was stymied translating a variety of adjectives to dye amounts. Albert H. Munsell, a professor at Massachusetts Normal Art School (now Massachusetts College of Art and Design) was faced with a similar challenge. His solution was to invent a new way to organize colors and an accompanying color atlas. The key invention was Chroma, a measure of chromatic intensity at constant hue and lightness. This new dimension of color was remarkable since mixtures of artist materials such as a tint series do not maintain constant lightness. Munsell had to divorce himself from producing color and consider color conceptually. This presentation will explore how Professor Munsell came to develop his new system, its properties, and its evolution during the 20th Century.


Roy Berns is the Richard S. Hunter Professor in Color Science, Appearance, and Technology within the Program of Color Science at Rochester Institute of Technology, USA. He directs the Andrew W. Mellon Studio for Scientific Imaging and Archiving of Cultural Heritage. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Textiles from the University of California at Davis and a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has received lifetime achievement awards from the International Association of Colour, the Inter-Society Color Council, the Colour Group of Great Britain, and the Society of Imaging Science and Technology. The subject of Berns’ doctoral dissertation was designing a Munsell Book of Color where its appearance was invariant to changes in lighting.  He is excited to return to the Munsell system. 

The Evolution of Color Order Systems

Working together with Rolf Kuehni, I will show a visual history of color order systems.


Renzo Shamey directs activities at the Color Science and Imaging Laboratory at the COT of North Carolina State University. Current research areas include color perception, unique hues, perception of object whiteness, blackness, grayness, and color difference modelling. Other areas of interest include coloration of various substrates, and development of expert systems for the coloration industry. He currently directs the Polymer and Color Chemistry program at North Carolina State University.

Color in Language, Culture, and the Environment

The spectrum of light varies continuously but languages parse this continuum into a small number of discrete categories. The bases for these categories have been studied extensively but remain unresolved. Armed with Munsell's palette, Berlin and Kay sampled color terms across a wide range of cultures, revealing strong similarities in color categories. However, in the decades since there continue to be new challenges and insights about color perception and color naming, work that bridges perception and cognition, and the individual and their environment. I will review these developments and our current understanding of the nature and meaning of color categories.


Michael Webster is a Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Director of the University's Center for Integrative Neuroscience (an NIH COBRE). He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1988 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge from 1988-1994. His research has focused on color and form perception, and how these percepts are shaped by adaptation to physical properties of the environment or physiological properties of the observer. He also studies the patterns and bases for individual differences in color perception.

Color, Color Names, and Stimulus Color and Their Subjective Links

The methodology used in my latest research on color names is quite innovative as it requires each participant to freely produce on a calibrated monitor the color stimulus whose perceived color is the best representative of a number of specified color terms. We chose those monolexemic terms that in Italian are most frequently used to refer to the range of colors which cover the whole color circle, divided into its four main quarters. The goal of the research was to find out what colors are meant by specific Italian terms and to check whether some Italian color names are either particularly well defined or confused with others.

During the presentation I will share the details of this research and show how the resulting color circle is characterized by eight colors of which four are unique, and four are mixed perceptually intermediate. It would be important to repeat the study cross-culturally to test for similarities and differences in color meanings with speakers of different languages and do the groundwork for an adequate translation of color terms.


Dr. Osvaldo da Pos is a Senior Scholar at the University of Padua, Italy. After graduating with a degree in Biology in 1971, he was awarded a one year scholarship at the University of Berkeley. Since 1987 he has served on the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Padua where he was in charge of the courses on Perception, General Psychology, and Ethics in Psychological Research at the Department of General Psychology. He retired from teaching in 2013. He is the co-founder and former director of the Inter-departmental Study Centre for Colour and Art and also co-founder of the Doctorate course in Perception and Psychophysics of the University of Padua. Dr. da Pos is a past Italian representative at the CIE Div.1, member of the AIC Executive Committee, member of many CIE Div.1 TCs, and past chairman of the AIC Study Group on "Visual Illusions and Effects". During the many years he has worked with visual illusions, he made significant contributions to the field with his experimental and theoretical works. His main research, inspired by the phenomenological theory of Gestalt, involves the perception of colour in its various aspects: contrast, assimilation, constancy, transparency, colour and illumination, colour and emotion, colour harmony, and colour names.

Modern Tools for Optimizing Color Selection or Reproduction

Successful imaging performance assessment requires established performance goals, efficient test plans, and periodic performance auditing. All three of these require the selection and adoption of references against which to gauge imaging “goodness”. In many cases the use of common color elements such as those comprising the ColorChecker® test target is sufficient. However, we find that color imaging of cultural heritage content, especially collections predominated by near neutrals (e.g. paper, vellum, parchments), limited color gamut (e.g., watercolors), and near singular hues (early photographic prints), can be challenging. The capture of small color differences is not only important but problematic, largely because the color targets used today to calibrate or profile digital capture devices were not designed to discriminate the subtle color gradations of such content.

These and other important examples of how test targets can be customized for optimal color reproduction, as well as non-visible forensic investigations, will be presented. We will also look toward the future in which targets might also take on new textures, shapes, and characteristics that probe and test for more dimensions of color appearance. Lastly, emerging multi-spectral and 3D modalities will open a whole new landscape of possibilities for color calibration, consistency, and reproduction.


Susan Farnand is an Assistant Professor in the Program of Color Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She teaches course in the Principles of Color Science, Color Physics, and the Color Science History. Her research interests include human vision and perception, color science, cultural heritage imaging and 3Dprinting. She received her BS in engineering from Cornell University, her Masters in Imaging Science and her PhD in Color Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She began her career at Eastman Kodak, designing and evaluating printer systems. She is Publications Vice President of the international Society of Imaging Science and Technology and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Imaging Science and Technology. She participates in several Standards efforts including ISO TC 42 JWG26 Archival Imaging.


Don Williams worked as a research imaging scientist for Kodak for 25 years until he left the company in 2006. His work there focused on both digital and traditional imaging practices across a number of disciplines that included reconnaissance, microfilm, consumer photography, and professional photography sectors.
He sits on international standards committees and is fully immersed and involved in the digital image archiving community, frequently contributing to the Federal Agencies Digitization Guideline Initiative and sits on the Still Image Working Group advisory board.

Don is the editor for ISO 12233, 2nd edition, Spatial Resolution Measurements, Digital Still Cameras, and has acted as coleader for equivalent performance standards on reflection and film scanners. His influence has extended into the mobile imaging arena where he was the sector leader for resolution measurement for Camera Phone Image Quality (CPIQ) imaging industry initiative.

Munsell's Legacy: Foundation & Laboratory

One of the great legacies of Albert Munsell's work to create the Munsell Book of Color and to found the Munsell Color Company was the creation of the Munsell Color Foundation, Inc. in 1942. This presentation will review the history of the foundation and its purposes during its 40-year life. Additionally, Munsell's ongoing legacy will be reviewed through the Foundation's dissolution in 1983 with the creation and endowment of the Munsell Color Science Laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The laboratory is now entering 35th year and has a lifetime of impact commensurate with that of the foundation itself. In honoring Munsell, we will also take a look at his impact on nearly four decades of color science students at RIT. The presentation will conclude with thoughts on Munsell's future legacy and the multidisciplinary fusion of color in the arts, the sciences, and applications.


Mark D. Fairchild is Professor and Founding Head of the Integrated Sciences Academy in RIT’s College of Science and Director of the Program of Color Science and Munsell Color Science Laboratory. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Imaging Science from R.I.T. and Ph.D. in Vision Science from the University of Rochester. Mark was presented with the 1995 Bartleson Award by the Colour Group (Great Britain) and the 2002 Macbeth Award by the Inter-Society Color Council for his works in color appearance and color science. He is a Fellow of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) and the Optical Society of America. Mark was presented with the Davies Medal by the Royal Photographic Society for contributions to photography. He received the 2008 IS&T Raymond C. Bowman award for excellence in education.