Affiliated researchers

Researchers are affiliated to the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage department for both short and longer periods of time. A selection of researchers and their current research is:

Emeritus Professor of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage; prof. Anne van Grevenstein

Research and conservation of the altarpiece “Lam Gods” in the St. Baafs Cathedral of Ghent by the brothers Van Eyck (1432)
Performed by a team of researchers and conservators affiliated with the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) in Brussels. For further information please download the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund activity report.


Since October 2012, the material-technical research and restoration treatment of the Ghent altarpiece has steadily advanced. Yellowed varnish layers were painstakingly removed from the reverse of the wing panels, allowing the underlying paint layers to be properly investigated. In the course of 2014 it gradually became clear that large areas of overpaint covered up the original composition. Since this overpaint did not show clearly in the X-ray, Infrared and Macro- photographs made during the stage of preliminary research, this discovery was of great importance. It raised the need to carefully consider the art historical implications, but also the consequences of this discovery for the further course of treatment. The Gieskes-Strijbis Fund made it possible to conduct further qualitative and quantitative analyses of the paint layers within the PhD research of the “Goa project” at Ghent University. Collaboration with the “AXES group” of the University of Antwerp made it possible to further characterise the overpainting by means of Macro-XRF. Thanks to the expansion of the research capacity of the analytical research laboratories at the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) in Brussels, it was possible to re-examine many paint samples in the light of these new and exciting discoveries.

Emeritus Professor of Conservation Science; prof. dr. Norman Tennent

Analysis by LA-ICP-MS
Norman Tennent, Johannes van Elteren, Arie Wallert

ceramicsThis research is a collaboration with the National Institute of Chemistry in Ljubljana involving the application of LA-ICP-MS (laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) to the analysis of glass, ceramics, and paint samples containing the blue pigment smalt from items in the Rijksmuseum collection. By means of 2-dimensional mapping of elemental compositions, a pictorial representation is obtained which corresponds to the visual appearance. More than 50 elements can be analysed simultaneously, allowing colorant elements such as cobalt to be associated with minor and trace elements which are a ‘fingerprint’ for the geological source of the raw materials.

Ceramics metamerism research
Norman Tennent, James Nobbs, Isabelle Garachon, Bodill Lamain

This research is a collaboration with a British colour science expert and Rijksmuseum ceramic conservators. Metamerism is a common troublesome feature faced by ceramic tegelsconservators; under certain lighting conditions, a mismatch occurs between the glaze colour and those areas repaired using a pigmented polymer medium. Blue glazes most frequently give problems but virtually invisible results can be achieved when metamerism is overcome. Current research is tackling the implementation issues of the unique computer database developed previously to ensure the optimal restoration of ceramic glazes.

Affiliated Researcher of Conservation Science; prof. dr. E. René de la Rie

Research into consolidating adhesives for the conservation of painted cultural objects
René de la Rie (UvA), Hans Poulis (TU Delft), Bertand Lavédrine (CRCC Paris), Chris McGlinchey (MoMA New York), Rebecca Ploeger (U Buffalo), Oscar Chiantore and Dafne Cimino (U Turin).

Many different materials, natural and synthetic, are in use to re-adhere and consolidate flaking paint layers on cultural objects. Among the modern synthetic materials in use, few have been  developed specifically for the conservation of cultural objects and many have never been tested for this purpose. Few attempts have been made to formulate adhesives to obtain the appropriate chemical and physical properties, nor do the materials take advantage of recent advancements in adhesives technology. Treatment of objects with these materials often leads to undesirable changes in appearance. This research aims at understanding the properties required to consolidate painted cultural objects and to develop products tailor-made for this purpose.

Degradation of cellulose at the wet-dry interface: “tidelines” in paper
René de la Rie (UvA), Anne-Laurence Dupont and Bertrand Lavédrine (CRCC Paris).

Formation of brown lines at the wet-dry interface in cellulosic materials such as paper has been described in many publications, some of which date from as far back as the 1930s. Despite various research efforts, the mechanism of the formation of these so-called “tidelines” is not fully understood. A better understanding is of relevance to the conservation, storage and the treatment of cultural objects made of paper and to a better understanding of cellulose degradation in general. In this research changes in cellulose are being studied using SEC/MALS, reverse phase chromatography and other methods. The effects of antioxidants on the degradation reactions is also being studied.