People and ideas, not just machines and equipment, form the basis for a global infrastructure for heritage science. In this multi-year programme funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ will conduct an international field survey that will map and analyze the ways in which the material properties of art works are studied, presented and preserved. The programme will investigate several specific themes, such as access to cultural heritage versus preservation; knowledge-based versus experience-based conservation; cultures of conservation and presentation; and complex data. By investigating these themes, the programme seesk to identify the major challenges facing the field today and in the future, and seize the the opportunities that exist for more fruitful collaboration. The programme will draft so-called Road Maps that will illustrate potential ways forward, with specific attention for the ways in which existing networks and organisations can be used and linked to facilitate the exchange of ideas and practices.