Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

Interviews in Conservation Research

This project aims for an integral approach to the use of oral history for conservation research, using case studies from the Rijksmuseum and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

Aim of the project

Museums and heritage institutions are constantly looking for new and sustainable methods for the conservation of our cultural heritage. Yet, personal testimonies of the people who have influenced cultural heritage objects are rarely recorded and archived, whereas these are crucial for research into an artwork’s life.

What happened during the restoration of Rembrandt's Night Watch (1642) in 1975-76? Or with Karel Appel's wall painting in the former restaurant of the Stedelijk (1956)? What is the story behind Alessandro Mendini's chest of drawers Nigritella Nigra (1993)?

In recent years a lot of attention has been paid to interviewing artists and to the dynamics of artworks in collections. However, most institutions are barely equipped to use interviews and personal testimonies in conservation research in a sustainable and methodologically sound way.

The goal of this research is to design an overarching model for museums, heritage institutions and freelance conservators, which seeks to reflect the use of interviews as a dynamic process, and thus to create a living archive with room for interpretation of users deepening our insight.

This research is funded by NWO as a Creative Industry - KIEM programme, within the framework of the Knowledge- and Innovation Agenda 2018-2021 of CLICKNL.

Cassettes (photo Esther van Duijn)

Interviews with conservators. Photo: Esther van Duijn

Principal investigator:

  • dr. Sanneke Stigter (University of Amsterdam)

Research team

  • dr. Esther van Duijn (Rijksmuseum)
  • drs. Bernice Crijns (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

Institutions involved

  • University of Amsterdam
  • Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • Rijksmuseum

Published by  NICAS

21 February 2019