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Research enables us to determine what we may need to preserve and how this heritage can remain accessible to the public.

Research is essential for making informed choices about preservation

Research is essential for making informed choices about the preservation of our heritage.

Knowledge is required to understand, appreciate and preserve heritage. With knowledge, questions can be answered about the fabrication of objects and understanding is gained about the deterioration of materials and the significance of objects. This enables the development of methods to preserve objects and collections for the future in optimal and cost effective ways.

Dynamic process

The development of knowledge for heritage maintenance is a dynamic and multidisciplinary process. Social, technological and scientific changes concerning heritage must be constantly anticipated. Above all, good research (scientific and otherwise) meets the rigorous demands of research conventions. Good research refers to previous research, is based on a hypothesis and testing, uses established research methods and techniques, generates verifiable results and carefully documents them.

Pivotal role

The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) plays a pivotal role in the scientific study of movable heritage. All projects involve collaboration, both with external parties (museums, universities, other research institutions, independent conservators and researchers) and, where appropriate, between colleagues from different RCE departments (movable heritage, monuments, archaeology, maritime and landscape heritage). The Expertise Centre is located In the Atelier Building in Amsterdam, where the RCE works closely together with the Rijksmuseum and the course in conservation of the University of Amsterdam, both of which share the building.

Top research facility

The RCE Amsterdam research facility comprises a series of highly specialized instruments, with which both non-invasive and micro-destructive analyses are carried out, supplemented by portable devices that can examined objects on site. Working with these top facilities are analytical specialists who are able to link their expertise in instrumental research with knowledge of heritage conservation. This unique combination places the RCE among the top five institutions worldwide in the field of technical art history and conservation research.

Research methods

The five programs of the Research Agenda 2008-2012 show the ways the RCE has connected qualitative, quantitative/statistical and analytical research with each other. Qualitative research here means the creation of and change of values in heritage practice, with a focus on the relationship between the material and non-material aspects of heritage. Quantitative/statistical research takes place in the context of the RCE Heritage Monitor, a tool that provides structural insights into the state of affairs with regard to heritage. Analytical research obviously has chiefly a scientific nature. However, this is certainly not disconnected from the questions that arise from technical art history and conservation and restoration practices. 


A selection of the research methods conducted in the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency in Amsterdam is included in the glossary of Research Techniques.