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CHARISMA - European collaboration

European collaboration in the field of the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage.

CHARISMA (Cultural Heritage Advanced Research Infrastructures: Synergy for a Multidisciplinary Approach to conservation/restoration) is a European funded project in which 22 partners consisting of museums, universities and research institutions collaborate.

Charisma, the website

Homepage of the website of CHARISMA.

The key concepts in CHARISMA are multidisciplinary, scientific level research on cultural heritage and collaboration. This programme connects scientific knowledge in the field of cultural heritage to advanced technology. Innovation and the further development of standards go hand in hand with knowledge exchange. Through the integrated approach a knowledge network has been created with scientific research, conservation and technical art history as the cornerstones. Collaboration optimizes access to existing international scientific infrastructure.


The CHARISMA consortium consists of 22 international participants. The RCE is involved in a large number of CHARISMA subprojects that are grouped under three main activities: Joint Research Activities, Networking and Access.

Joint Research Activities

New analysis techniques and methods are developed and/or modified under CHARISMA activities. For RCE the emphasis lies on research into natural and synthetic dyes. The key question was how the path can be traced from analytical results back to the original material. For example, tracing a dye identified from a textile back to the plant from which the dye was extracted in the past.

Textile dyeing workshops

By researching the cultivation conditions, recipes and procedures, and making reconstructions, the production process of dyes can be formulated. During three workshops textile dyeing was carried out following old recipes and sometimes using newly cultivated plants. This resulted in the reconstruction and identification of a range of dyes. By dyeing varying tints the resulting palette was refined and subsequently, organic pigments could be reproduced from this rich palette of colours.

Thanks to analytical techniques this research has contributed to the evidence-based interpretation of the original appearance of cultural material, an aspect that can dramatically change over time. For example, the faded colours of textiles can be resurrected using this approach. At the same time, the study provided an important contribution to an integrated scientific methodology.


Knowledge of cultural heritage is shared through symposia, expert meetings, CHARISMA workshops and training courses. The RCE is fully involved through participating and organising such events. For instance, in 2013 the RCE organised a course on stone conservation with participants from 15 countries. The participants' contributions of case studies provided a diverse overview of practical problems and signified an addition to knowledge transfer on the latest developments in stone conservation by international experts.

A guideline for monuments

One example of a network subproject was the formulation of a questionnaire that defines the conservation problems of a monument, building or site in a structured manner. The guideline is based on common issues, but also takes specific materials as a starting point. The aim is to assist experts in finding solutions to problems in cultural heritage conservation practice.


Consortium partners open their doors to foreign guest researchers. This involves facilitating access to archival materials, instruments and the consortium's body of knowledge for professionals in the cultural heritage field. For instance, Applications can be submitted for travel and research costs.


The RCE is involved in ArchLab, the provision of RCE research data (in the form of file folders) held by the RCE library in Amsterdam. Samples from the archive can also be analysed once again using techniques that were previously unavailable. In addition, applicants are able to exchange ideas on the subject with RCE researchers, which yields fresh knowledge and new contacts and sometimes a co-written article such as that on 'green cleaning'.

The following projects have been carried out at the RCE:

- Green cleaning - Green solution to cleaning polychrome surfaces: enzyme and ionic liquids-based systems (Irina Sandu, Portugal);
- The red road of the Iberian expansion: cochineal and the global dye trade (Ana Serrano, Portugal);
- EMIR: The Early Medieval Iron Weapons from Rhenen- Donderberg (NL) (Evelyne Godfrey, United Kingdom);
- Late Turner: Materials and techniques investigated 1987-1995, reassessed 2011-14 to be made available to a new generation of researchers (Joyce Townsend, United Kingdom);
- SOAC: An examination of the cause of water sensitivity in 20th C. manufactured artists oil paints (Aviva Stock Burn, United Kingdom);
- Cuyp technical study: An Investigation into the Materials and Techniques of paintings by Aelbert Cuyp and the School Dordrecht (Libby Sheldon, United Kingdom);
- EURODYE: Dyes in textiles from Romanian collections in a European context (Irina Petroviciu, Romania).