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Plastics Project

Between April 2017 and April 2019, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, along with ten other major Dutch museums, took part in a national research project into plastics in contemporary art collections.

As part of the project, a do-it-yourself method was developed that enables collection managers and conservators to identify, monitor and where necessary take conservation measures for a large proportion of their plastic collections. During the project the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) furthermore trained two young professionals who specialize in this field. The do-it-yourself method involves using a digital Plastic Identification Tool and a set of boxes containing reference materials; the PIT kit. Each participant now has a PIT kit and the digital tool is accessible to the public and can be used via the RCE website (Dutch only). 

During the project there was a plastics workshop at each of the participating museums where attendees acquired insight into different plastics and their properties. Attendees learned to use the Plastic Identification Tool on objects from their museum’s collection. Materials were identified for registration, documentation and conservation under the guidance of the two project researchers and an RCE expert.

Parties involved and conclusion
The project was coordinated by the Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (SBMK) and the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS), a partnership between the RCE, the Rijksmuseum and the University of Amsterdam’s Conservation & Restoration Department. Financial support for the project came from the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds and the Mondriaan Fund. It concluded on 27 June 2019 with the symposium ‘Identification of Plastics in Artworks without a Laboratory’.

New Project: Photography Project
The Plastics Project is being followed up with the Collection Knowledge 2.0/Photography Project. This project is also being initiated by the SBMK.

In its new Depot, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will regularly be identifying plastics in its collection. If accurate documentation can be produced about which plastics comprise an object, it is easier to identify and analyze the risks of deterioration. The objective is to conserve the plastics in the museum collection as well and for as long as possible.

Thomas Rentmeister, Ohne Titel, 1994 (2006), Purchase with support of Mondriaan Fonds 2006
Thomas Rentmeister, Ohne Titel, 1994 (2006), Purchase with support of Mondriaan Fonds 2006