CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

New Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS) aims to unite art and science

Last Friday, 25 September marked the launch of a new research center, the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS). Minister of Education, Culture & Science Jet Bussemaker officially opened the center during an event at the Rijksmuseum. The NICAS research center brings together art history, conservation and restoration with the natural sciences, with the aim of improving the preservation of cultural heritage.

The multidisciplinary approach connects art historical research with chemistry and physics expertise, as well as with IT in order to develop specialized programs. ‘This approach facilitates the development of new applications that help us to better understand, preserve and visualize national and international heritage’, explains Robert van Langh, Chairperson of NICAS and Head of Conservation and Restoration at the Rijksmuseum.

Information from NICAS, 25 September 2015

Improving fundamental expertise
How much damage will be caused to a pastel during transport to another museum? How can we develop cleaning methods without affecting the chemical balance in oil paintings? How did painters such as Jheronimus Bosch set to work? These are just a few of the questions that will occupy NICAS researchers. From ICT techniques analysing the working methods of famous painters like Bosch, to research into the sociohistorical context in which painted rooms such as the Oranjezaal at Huis ten Bosch were created – all these aspects will be addressed by NICAS. Close collaboration between the fields of natural sciences, art history, and conservation and restoration enables vital research to be conducted. ‘Up until now, natural scientists from all over the country had to be found on an ad hoc basis. All the required expertise will now be available in one place at NICAS’, says Louis Vertegaal, Director of the Chemical and Exact Sciences Division of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This will provide firm foundations for the development of better restoration and conservation techniques, the selection of optimal storage conditions and for an improved understanding of art objects and the history.

NICAS is a collaboration between the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Rijksmuseum, the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). The institute will establish a joint research programme and a sustained research network that unites a range of disciplines. The NWO has made €5 million available for the first five years of the project. The allocation of the first round of applications for new NICAS projects is planned for autumn 2015. The NICAS concept is also supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Van Gogh Museum, the Mauritshuis, the Netherlands Forensic Institute and TI-COAST.

For more information, please visit: