Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

A multi-scale and uncertainty approach for the analysis of the aging of timber art objects adhesively bonded by animal glues

Museums and cultural heritage institutions have the important duty of preserving their art-pieces for future generations. Among the possible risks art objects may be exposed to, degradation and aging due to climate fluctuations is one of the most debated topics within the conservation community. To circumvent these problems, during the twentieth century strict indoor climate specifications have been developed These are however associated to an environmental-unfriendly policy, involving high energy consumption and costs for climate installations. Museums currently have to set environmental sustainability as a priority of interest. This can be achieved by avoiding unnecessarily strict climate specifications, without causing any damage to the collections. Therefore, extensive research must be done to assess the risk of degradation of highly susceptible objects as a function of the climate conditions. This project focuses precisely on the issue of long-term, climate-related degradation and aging of wooden panel paintings and decorated furniture, in which damage is often due to the failure of the glue joints between wood boards. This has been observed in a museum study at the Rijksmuseum performed within the NWO-Climate4Wood project; yet, a physically-based explanation of these damage mechanisms is still lacking. The project proposes a research strategy that bridges the gap between the mechanistic understanding of degradation and aging of wooden panels and the object-related observations from conservation practice. This will assist conservators in minimizing degradation of the artefacts and in applying a more environment-friendly conditioning of the indoor climate.

MUON Castle Amerongen

Jan van Mekeren, Right door of a cabinet (Ca. 1690-1700, Castle Amerongen). Oak, veneered with floral marquetry. The vertical cracks correspond with failed glue joints between the oak boards underneath the veneer. Photo: Castle Amerongen

Project acronym


Principal Investigator

  • Prof. dr. ir. A. Suiker (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Co-Principal Investigator

  • Dr. Ir. E. Bosco (Eindhoven University of Technology)
  • P. van Duin (Rijksmuseum)
  • Dr. Ir. H. Poulis (Delft University of Technology)
  • Dr. E. Pauwels (CWI)
  • Drs. W. Gard (Delft University of Technology)
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. R. Benedictus (Delft University of Technology)

Participating institutions

  • Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)
  • Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • Frans Hals Museum
  • Getty Conservation Institute
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg
  • Trobas Gelatines BV
  • Dynea AS



Published by  NICAS

28 November 2018