Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity

Conservation and Display: Material Trajectories

A key focus of interest is changes in oil paintings.

The UvA coordinates the NWO-funded PAinT (Paint Alterations in Time) program, exploring the chemical processes causing changes in oil paintings, that combines the chemical analysis of paint samples with the computational analysis of structure models.

Within the university, humanities researchers collaborate with the Van’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) of the Faculty of Science and the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS). International partners are a great many national and international museums, the ESRF (Grenoble), IPANEMA Soleil, Diamond Synchroton Source (Oxford), the Institute of Surface Chemistry (Stockholm), Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Copenhagen, Courtauld Institute (London), and the Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles). 

Secondly, contemporary artworks offer particular challenges through the ephemeral, fragile, and experimental nature of their materials and sometimes unknown propensities. In regard to modern art, the UvA has been involved with Maastricht University and the Graduate Research School WTMC (Science, Technology and Modern Culture) in developing theoretical models for the conservation of contemporary art and is a partner in the NWO funded Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art Research (NeCCAR).

The ACHI will, furthermore, stimulate cultural reflection on the status of these objects as events, acts, or installations which challenge the ideal of fixating their material condition. It particularly encourages interaction with the UvA’s existing expertise regarding physical change in analogue and digital photography, film and video, as well as hardware and software: because of its rapid obsolescence, the carriers and playback equipment of time-based and digital media often pose more urgent questions of conservation than the Old Masters (see Digital Heritage). 

Thirdly, the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology has a strong track record in studying physical materials from past societies, such as ceramics and bones. The reflexive and multiple processes of identification, conservation, and display are critically addressed in cooperation with ongoing archaeological fieldwork in the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Iraq and with the Allard Pierson Museum and other heritage institutions. This scientific perspective complements the wider assessment of material culture in regard to European cultural exchange and processes of identity formation (see Europe). 

23 January 2014