The Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) was launched in February 2007 to play a leadership role in the use and development of tools and techniques to reconstruct and analyze the history of great works art, monumental structures as well as archaeological sites and artifacts. CISA3 operates at the intersection of art and science – seeking objective knowledge and a more factual basis for understanding art history and the creative genius of artists and civilizations. The center also explores methodologies and solutions to problems of art conservation, while training a new generation of interdisciplinary experts to work in this emerging field.

At its core, CISA3 aims to change the way the world looks at its cultural heritage, in two basic ways:

"Science can bring so much to our understanding and appreciation of art," says CISA3 director Maurizio Seracini, "and we are creating a new discipline where art and engineering go hand in hand."

Given its interdisciplinary nature, the center grew out of the University of California, San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), in collaboration with UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Arts & Humanities. The center builds on the 30-year career of its director, Maurizio Seracini, who has studied more than 2,500 of the world's most important paintings, frescoes, statues and historical buildings. "When we learned of Maurizio's work, many of us began to sense that he and Calit2 were made for each other," says division director Ramesh Rao. "His techniques make him look like an engineer and a data analyst to many, but the object of his inquiry is art and architecture, an unusual combination. It was not hard to imagine developing a center around his unique perspective and the technological capabilities of scientists and engineers at UC San Diego and Calit2."