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Silver and brass bracelet
MFA# 2006.629


Typewriter key rings
MFA# 2006.524.1-4

A class of chemical elements that can exist individually as pure solids in the form of a crystalline matrix. Metals are characterized by their hardness, ductility, conductivity, luster and malleability. They are good conductors of heat and electricity. Metals can form alloys, or solid mixtures, with other metals. The properties of metals and alloys can change radically with the addition of small amounts of some elements, such as carbon added to steel. When dissolved in solution, metals form positive ions. Most metals, such as Silver, Aluminum, Copper, Iron, and Zinc, usually occur naturally in the form of ores and must be processed to obtain the pure element. The only exceptions are Gold, Platinum, and Palladium which usually occur as native metals. Metals are used for structural supports, protective coatings, to provide electrical conductivity and for decoration.

Synonyms and Related Terms

métal (Fr.); Metall (Deut.); metal (Esp.); metaal (Ned.); metal (Port.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Metals are not affected by light.
  • Most metal are affected by acids.
  • Some are affected by pollutants, high humidity and oxygen.

Resources and Citations

  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • David C. Scott, Metallography and Microstructure of Ancient and Historic Metals, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1991
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996