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Research Cooperation with the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency

In 2021 the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen started a three-year joint research effort. This cooperation comes under two headings: the museum is participating in several projects in the RCE’s ‘Programma Erfgoed van de 20ste eeuw. Een toekomst voor het nabije verleden’ [‘20th-Century Heritage Programme: A Future for the Recent Past’],and RCE expertise is contributing to a number of the museum’s conservation investigations.

Twentieth-Century Heritage

Modern works of art, buildings and industrial objects made during the twentieth century, and particularly those dating from after 1945, are vulnerable because of the modern materials used and the fact that their cultural value has not yet been fully recognized. This has resulted in significant questions among policy makers, cultural heritage professionals and private individuals. Understanding the objects is a requirement for a good analysis of the most urgent issues and for making forecasts. Knowledge of historical and modern materials and techniques, the impact of restoration efforts, and environmental factors such as light, temperature, moisture, dirt and pollution, is essential in this context. During the 2021-2023 period, the 20th-Century Heritage Programme will compile the required knowledge with the assistance of professionals. The objective is to achieve a greater focus on optimal conservation, management and presentation. The programme has three themes: materials, tools and value & use. These themes will be addressed in eight projects. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is participating in the following projects:

You can read more about the 20th-Century Heritage Programme and the different projects on the RCE’s website

RCE expertise contributing to museum investigations

The museum can also call on the RCE’s research expertise. This will happen, for instance, in a preliminary investigation into a fifteenth-century triptych by the Master of Saint Veronica, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli's Field (Floor Show) by Yayoi Kusama and Poplars near Nuenen by Vincent van Gogh. The research issues vary from one object to another, but they are normally concerned with unravelling the artist’s use of materials and techniques. The RCE conducts the investigation using research equipment in its Cultural Heritage Laboratory.

On a number of occasions the RCE will also be conducting research in the Depot’s conservation workshops using equipment from their ‘Lab op pad’ [mobile laboratory]. The RCE developed it to introduce the general public to the role and relevance of science in conserving cultural heritage. RCE researchers take their mobile laboratory to museums, where they investigate works in the collection. Museum visitors can watch research being conducted and ask questions.