• The Research Agenda 2008-2012 includes  five research programmes focussing on collection-management. Their binding factor is ‘valuation’.

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  • Program

    Value and valuation

    Development of methods and techniques to objectify the value and appreciation of cultural heritage.

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    Under 'valuation' in relation to heritage we mean making substantiated and verifiable statements about the value of an object or a collection, based on a question falling under an appropriate frame of reference and concerning certain stakeholders. Predetermined and predefined criteria are applied.

    This explicit defining of an assigned value is necessary to steer preservation, development and utilisation and to enable a societal basis for heritage to emerge. After all, who determines the value of the collection now that the 'expert' no longer counts as the sole authority? How do you valuate an object or collection if there is no objective measurable value? How do you provide sufficient societal support for heritage at a time when the cultural sector is under pressure?


    The Value and Valuation programme aimed to make the various players in the heritage field (owners, managers, policy makers and funders) aware of the importance of the intrinsic (non-financial) value and valuation of cultural heritage, and to develop methods and techniques to attribute value to objects and collections. As valuation benefits from a broad interdisciplinary approach, the emphasis lay on dialogue and collaboration with external partners. A new system was developed in close consultation with the museum world to facilitate the process of value attribution. This has resulted in the publication of On the museum scales: collection valuation in six steps.

    Independent valuation

    This practical guide takes the user through the valuation process step-by-step and results in a description of object/collection significance, a valuation ranking or grouping, or an investment plan. With well-founded arguments it is possible to explain to others the value of an object or collection and the reasons for the value. This facilitates decision-making on interventions, making conflicting interests negotiable and making stories behind the collection accessible.

  • Program

    Collection Accessibility

    Research into the effectiveness of methods and means to make heritage and related knowledge accessible online.

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    New media forms a tempting alternative to traditional analogue guides for the public as staff and resources in museums are generally scarce. But do they function as well or better than gallery texts, guided or audio tours?

    Are some applications more effective than others? Are there any applications that actually generate more visitors, and if so, which?


    The Accessibility programme focused on the effectiveness of virtual resources to make heritage visible and to interest new types of public. Possibilities include apps, 3D and AR techniques, and also social media like Facebook and YouTube. But what to choose from the overwhelming number of new techniques?


    The RCE carried out an inventory to provide collection managers with an understanding of the developments and possibilities of new media (and the institutions that can assist in developing applications). This also aimed to chart the applications most effective for specific objectives for both content and generating visitors. The projects on which these questions were tested were diverse in nature:

    • Conservation of two textile objects of polypropylene. In this project, the practical applicability of conservation knowledge about polypropylene was tested. In addition a conservation treatment of polypropylene was recorded for educational objectives and the conservation file placed online. As a result, both the object and the information are permanently accessible for consultation by collection managers and conservators.
    • Imago revisited: research into two installations in a case study using good practice (developed during the Inside Installations project) regarding the daily and long-term management of complex (multimedia) installations.
    • Generating and sharing knowledge online about the conservation of contemporary art in the two-year European project PRACTICs by museums, institutes and universities. Associated with this was a public testing of the film Installation Art: Who Cares? as an educational tool, to investigate how much visitors appreciated having a look 'behind the scenes'.
    • CARTA project, an inventory of documentation projects and documentation systems with which research findings are linked to locations and artworks.
    • Inventory of the operation of two thematic networks (INCCA Education and Postdoc Network) under INCCA.
    • Archiving the website with all details of the Inside Installations project, the preservation and presentation of Installation Art Project (2004-2007), a research into the re-installation and documentation of 33 complex multimedia installations.
    • Participation of the RCE as a research partner in the pilot project of MuseumApp, under which the effectiveness of this app for heritage institutions was studied.
    • Development of guidelines to increase the effectiveness of museum institutions online.
  • Program

    Object in context

    Enrichment of the object in its context on the basis of technical art history and research, for the benefit of its conservation and restoration.

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    Objects that have been handed down to us from the past can tell a story of their history of creation and how they have changed over time.

    The Object in Context programme makes such stories accessible through research on the material object and its contextual clues (historical evidence). In addition, the program focuses on questions concerning the restoration and conservation of a range of objects, from classical antiquity to contemporary art, from paintings and textiles to metal and plastics.


    Under Object in Context, analytical chemistry researchers and forensic specialists delve into cause and effect. Besides a keen eye for detail, they employ a research laboratory and technological methods that enable the visualization of evidence visible only at a molecular level. Although analytical research often forms the basis for research, collaboration with other disciplines, such as art and cultural history, is always sought as well.

    Arts meets sciences

    A connecting link between the many projects under Object in Context is the extent to which ageing is regarded as acceptable. That limit of acceptance is subjective and cannot be considered purely from the material-technical perspective. Thus the theme of 'perception of the surface' is key in several projects. This involves coupling the scientific 'looking' through apparatus with subjective, human visual perception.

    Download here the comprehensive introduction to the Object in Context program, including an introduction to the projects in PDF.

  • Project

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

  • Project

    Manufacture, consolidation, cleaning and use of plaster casts, models and objects.

  • Project

    Cleaning unvarnished painting surfaces from the 20th century.

  • Project

    The painting methods of Rembrandt's pupil, Govert Flinck.

  • Project

    Artist Interviews as an essential source of information for the conservation of contemporary art.

  • Project

    The inventory of damages and problematic situations of art in public spaces.

  • Project

    The use of natural dyes on textiles and furniture.

  • Project

    New Strategies in the Conservation of Contemporary Art.

  • Project

    The degradation and conservation of plastics.

  • Project

    How to conserve cellulose acetate (CA) art works, based on the case study of two plastic (CA) books.

  • Project

    Degradation of polyurethane (PUR) elastomers: research into properties, degradation and conservation treatments.

  • Project

    The conservation of art works of broken, transparent, unsaturated polyester and polymethyl methacrylate.

  • Project

    Preservation OPlastic ARTefacts in museum collections.

  • Project

    Influence of objective and subjective aspects in decision-making about the cleaning of objects.

  • Project

    Research into archaeologic and historic objects.

  • Project

    Fabrication techniques and conservation of archaeological metals.

  • Project

    Origin of red garnets in early medieval jewellery in the Netherlands.

  • Project

    Fabrication and origin of magnetic cannons, White Delft and a shipload of semi-finished articles.

  • Project

    Van Gogh's work process in the context of his time.

  • Project

    Mondriaan's Victory Boogie Woogie: his last work under the microscope.

  • Project

    Research into the history and application of early synthetic dyes.

    This research into the history, identification and ageing behaviour of synthetic dyestuffs aimed to acquire more insight into colour use in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Part of the reference collection of synthetic dyes, RCE.

    Part of the reference collection of synthetic dyes, RCE.

    The study of early synthetic dyes is particularly important because many of these dyes were developed and applied during the second half of the 19th century where historical information is often lacking: how and how often were the dyes used, what is their behaviour, especially with ageing? As a result the original manifestation of the object remains unclear. That makes it impossible to place objects from this period in context in terms of appearance and fabrication. In addition, the understanding of management measures and conservation options are limited. The RCE is currently globally advanced in this research area.


    In recent years, much research has taken place into early synthetic dyes. In the period 1850-1900 natural dyes were replaced by synthetic dyes, of which hundreds were developed. The RCE examined the 65 most important, from all dye classes in that period. This multidisciplinary research included several sub-projects.


    • Compilation of historical information about the development and application of early synthetic dyes (1850-1900);
    • Development and application of analytical techniques and procedures for the identification of early synthetic dyes, including HLC-PDA and LC-MS, FTIR and RAMAN and FORS (as selection technique);
    • Investigation of degradation mechanisms in order to better understand degradation pathways and kinetics. In addition to providing preservation guidelines, the identification of the original colour of degraded dyestuffs is also important;
    • Historical, analytical and reconstruction research of 19th and early 20th century furniture pieces that are now severely faded;
    • Conducting case studies to gain more insight into the use of synthetic dyes, but also to develop the above-mentioned techniques.


    prev  /  next Example of some synthetic dyes of the reference-collection of the RCE. Example of non-destructive examination of the use of color on furniture with use of FORS. This stands for Evening dress of Queen Elizabeth in which both natural and synthetic dyes are shown. The blue indigo carmine has been identified; since the washing-fastness of the dye is poor, this perfused. Some dye scientists who did important discoveries in the field of synthetic dyes. Museum Willet-Holthuysen met daarin een 19e eeuwse kamer. Kleurstofonderzoek wees op veelvuldig gebruik van synthetische kleurstoffen die inmiddels zijn verkleurd. Foto: Amsterdam museum. To get some insight into the original colour research is done. The paint recipe for colouring silk with christal violet is based on historical sources.


    Lijst van publicaties en presentaties project Vroege synthetische kleurstoffen.

    Bommel, M. R. van, I. Vanden Berghe, A. M. Wallert, J. Wouters, J. Barnett, and R. Boitelle, ‘The analysis of synthetic dyes in an embroidery of Emile Bernard (c. 1892)’, papers of 14th Triennial Meeting of ICOM-CC The Hague, (Den Haag), 2005, pp. 969-977. Abstract.

    Bommel, M. van, en E. Fantini, 'Unravelling the colour palette: reconstruction and analysis of synthetic colour stains', Open Acces Journal ePreservation, Morana RTD 2012. 

    Bommel, M. van, en E. Fantini, 'Het kleurenpalet ontrafeld: reconstructie en analyse van synthetische beitskleurstoffen', in: M. Vasques Diaz (red.), Kleur bekennen, Handelingen 9e Nederlandse Symposium Hout- en Meubelrestauratie (Amsterdam), 2013, pp. 46-56.

    Boonstra, J.J., M.R. van Bommel en P. Bruys, 'Flowers from Holland – antique Dutch furniture with later added marquetry from the late 19th and early 20th centuries', in: U. Brunne (red.), Marquetry, past and present. 2nd Scandinavian Symposium on Furniture Technology & Design 2007 (2013), pp. 142-161. Abstract.

    Confortin, D., H. Neevel, M. R. van Bommel, M. Brustolon, L. Franco, Crystal violet: study of the photo-fading of an early synthetic dye in aqueous solution and on paper with HPLC-PDA, LC-MS and FORS (2010).

    Confortin, D., H. Neevel, M. R. van Bommel, B. Reissland, Study of the degradation of an early synthetic dye (crystal violet) on cotton linters, lignin and printing paper by the action of UV-Vis and Vis light and evaluation of the effect of gum arabic on degradation products and on colour change (2010).

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel, R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, The early synthetic organic dyestuffs: The Ponceaus, 27th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Istanbul, 9-10 oktober 2008. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel, R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, R. Knaller en E. Oberhumer, ‘Indigo Carmine: Understanding of a problematic blue dye’, Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Supplement 1, Mancy Publishing, juli 2011, pp. 87-95. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, 'Een keur aan verleidelijke kleuren: hoogtepunten van de vroeg-synthetische organische kleurstofgeschiedenis', in: M. Vasques Diaz, Eds., Kleur bekennen, Handelingen 9e Nederlandse Symposium Hout- en Meubelrestauratie (Amsterdam), 2013, pp. 30-45.

    Vermeij, L.O.E.S., S. de Groot en M. R. van Bommel, The identification of early synthetic dyestuffs using Raman spectroscopy, poster, IRUG-meeting, 2009.


    Bommel, M. van, E. Hendriks en S. van Heugten, Vincent’s Wool; Dyestuff and mordant analysis of wool used by Vincent van Gogh for the development of his colour theory, 25th Anniversary Meeting Dyes in History and Archaeology, Suceava (Roemenië), 20-23 september 2006. Abstract.

    Bommel, M. van, M. de Keijzer en K. van Duin, Lehne’s tables. The colourful life of Adolf Lehne (1856-1930), 28th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology (Poznan, Polen), 21-24 oktober 2009. Abstract.

    Bommel, M. van, en E. Fantini, Het kleurenpalet ontrafeld: reconstructie en analyse van synthetische beitskleurstoffen, lezing tijdens 'Kleur bekennen', symposium Stichting Ebenist, 2011.

    Keijzer, M. de, en M. van Bommel, Bright new colours; the history and analysis of fluorescein, eosine, erythrosine and some of their derivatives, 23th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Montpellier, 5 november 2004. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel en R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, The oldest synthetic organic dyestuff group: the history and analysis of the triarylmethane dyes and some of their derivatives, 24th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Liverpool 2-5 november 2005. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, en R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, The early synthetic organic dyestuffs: patents and international competition, 25th Anniversary Meeting Dyes in History and Archaeology, Suceava (Roemenië), 20-23 september 2006. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel en R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, The early synthetic organic dyestuffs: The Yellows, 26th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Wenen 8-9 November 2007. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel en M. Geldof, Synthetic organic pigments used by Vincent van Gogh at the end of his lifetime, EU-Artech Symposium on Vincent van Gogh and Contemporaries, Amsterdam 14-15 mei 2009. Abstract.

    Keijzer, M. de, M.R. van Bommel en R. Hofmann-de Keijzer, A colour boom: the di- and tri-aryl methane dyes, 30th Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Derby (Ver. Koninkrijk), 12-15 oktober 2011. Abstract.



    Meetings Dyes in History and Archaeology



    Maarten van Bommel

    Team members

    Matthijs de Keijzer, Han Neevel, Suzan de Groot, Daria Confortin (promovendus degradatieonderzoek)

    Studenten: Inaas Kallan, Enrica Fantini, Naomi Koops, marguerite Caycedo, Loes Vermeij, Jetty Timmer, Kasper van Duijn.

  • Project

    Causes of water sensitivity in the oil paints of 20th century paintings.

  • Program


    Quantitative research on composition, use and policies concerning museum collections.

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    In the museum sector, procedures and processes of collection management are analysed using figures and indicators to only a limited extent. As a result, decisions are often based on impressions or tradition.

    Ad hoc quantitative analyses have been performed in recent years. Again and again it has proved difficult to generate reliable figures.


    When comparing museums it was also revealed that the number of variables arising form an almost insurmountable barrier for benchmarking. The RCE therefore opted for a structural, long-term program with the focus on a statistical approach to research questions concerning collection management.


    Under the Museometry programme, quantitative research is conducted on the composition, use and exploitation of museum collections. Trends and developments are distilled from the collected facts and figures on museum collections (museometry). The resulting figures and analyses are made available for the museum professionals and managers responsible for museum collections. In turn, they use this quantitative data for the formulation of various policies concerning these collections. In this way museometry contributes to evidence-based management (EBM) in the museum sector.


    Projects under this program include:

    • The Loan Monitor: a website that visualises on a map loan movements between national and international museums for exhibitions.
    • The Modern Art Collection Audit (CMBK), a statistical analysis of how Netherlands museums have collected modern art from 1999 to 2009. The database, comprising acquisition data from about 40 museums with relevant collections of modern art, makes statistically based statements possible about the collection policy of the museums.
    • The 20th century Artist Index, in which major artists are inventoried from the period 1870 to the present.
    • Completion and verification of available data on international collection mobility, accessibility and cultural participation arising from the implementation of the indemnity scheme.
    • An inventory and analysis of museum annual reports.
  • Program

    Collection Risk Management

    A user-friendly method for heritage managers to assess and manage risks themselves.

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    The Collection risk management (CRM) program is aimed at minimizing the loss of value at the interface between preservation and use. The existing CRM methodology has been tested in different situations, developed and simplified in order to bring it within reach of smaller institutions with limited time and resources.

    To this end, new instruments were developed and information necessary to quantify the various risks was generated and made available in the convenient form of a digital manual. The program concluded with an international meeting on risk management.


    Risk management examines all the threats to which collections are exposed and combines preventive conservation, security and facility management. This forms the next step in the professionalization of collection preservation and management. In applying this strategy, the risks for a collection are identified, analysed and evaluated. These risks can then be compared on the basis of the expected value loss over a given period (risk assessment) and ranged to set priorities for measures to reduce this loss of value. This aids the collection manager in making informed and substantiated choices in the deployment of the often limited resources available to collection management.


    Under the CRM program, the methodology was tested in case studies, courses and workshops, then further developed and simplified so that smaller institutions with limited time, resources and knowledge can also gain insight into their own situation. To this end knowledge must be generated to qualify or quantify the various risks and ultimately made available in a usable form. This process was carried out in a number of projects under the program. Knowledge development and deployment of the indemnity scheme also fell under this program. The field of security risks and calamities was covered in collaboration with the Safe Heritage programme.


    The before-mentioned knowledge and instruments are for the most part collated in the Digital Collection Risk Management Manual. This describes the methodology step-by-step, provides instruments for conducting a risk analysis and sets out the available information on the ten most important damage factors. In this way, the user is able to carry out a risk analysis with their team. The Manual helps in formulating the right questions for external experts.

    Risk analysis

    Two projects under the program were intended to generate data to aid in assessing risk scenarios and to determine extent of risk. On the one hand quantitative information was collected for events that could lead to loss of value (damage factors of fire, theft and vandalism, mechanical forces and water), and on the other, degradation processes (damage factors of climate, light, mechanical forces vibration and air pollution/dust). In addition, a model was developed under the Cost Effectiveness project for determining the cost-effectiveness of conservation measures.

    Research on Paper

    Finally the Metamorfoze project (National Programme for the Conservation of Paper Heritage) sought solutions for the preservation and treatment of original paper documents. The research focused on inherent deterioration such as ink corrosion, the usefulness (or uselessness) of air purification in depots and the development of a portable instrument for the on-the-spot determination of light sensitivity of objects.

    The CRM programme concluded in 2012 with the meeting Reducing Risks to Heritage in collaboration with ICCROM and CCI.