Mission and identity

Mission

The UvA department ‘Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage’ aims to train future conservator-restorers in one of the nine fields of specialisation offered. In addition to this training relevant courses for the professional field are offered in the Continuing Professional Development programme. Furthermore the department contributes to maintaining high standards for the preservation of cultural heritage through professional partnership, involvement in national and international courses and participation in relevant organisations such as the European Network for Conservation-Restoration Education: ENCoRE.

Students in the Technical Art History master’s programme are educated to work as researchers at the crossroads of the sciences and humanities. The UvA is ideally situated to immerse students in the technical study of art objects and materials. To ensure exchange of thought and practice from the start, several courses are shared with students of the Conservation & Restoration master’s programme, while others are offered within the departments of Art History and Museum Studies, as well as with conservation scientists and museum professionals from the Rijksmuseum, Mauritshuis and Van Gogh Museum. The students are introduced to the emerging field of Technical Art History professionally, by visiting colloquia and by participating in international education and research projects.

Identity

Interdisciplinary cooperation plays an important role within the field of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and Technical Art History. The Humanities as well as the Sciences are important pillars that are united in conservation practice and theory. The professional conservator-restorer should be able to make balanced treatment choices based upon scientific research and methodological assessments. Students trained in the Technical Art History programme should be able to conduct similar research, dictated not primarily by issues of condition and restoration, but focusing on the history of making processes as materialised in art works and as reflected upon in artist’s ideas and art theory.

Both the profession and the scientific discipline of Conservation and Restoration require a profoundly versatile attitude towards the preservation of cultural heritage. Whilst the object, group of objects or ensemble always forms the centre of study, the conservator-restorer should be able to reconstruct and synthesize as many facts as possible with a goal to ensure the long term safe keeping of the objects in question. This process of conservation and restoration calls upon a wide variety of personal qualities including keen intellect based on sharp observation, outstanding manual skills, inventiveness, flexibility and an endless sense of curiosity.

Scientific assessment of cultural heritage involves not only the interpretation of material aspects but also an accurate analysis of their context, meaning, significance and value in the past, present and future. This is a challenging task considering the enormously diverse range of cultural heritage objects, each with their own unique set of characteristics and history.