NICAS has formulated four main focus areas:
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Technical Art History
The research challenge is to make use of new possibilities in science and technology to confront problems and questions within art history. The ambition is to transform the study of art history through the use of science and technology. Recent developments in the sciences and computational fields will extend the scholarly reach of art historians. Art history in its turn will challenge the sciences for the development of new diagnostic tools or theories. Older art historical questions may be dealt with in new ways, and fruitful new questions will be opened up.
The research challenge is to significantly raise the level of conservation practice by bridging the gap between fundamental scientific developments and case-based conservation practice. This theme aims at strengthening the existing ties with related disciplines and involving scientific disciplines in conservation research that as yet have not played a significant role in this field, thereby taking significant steps towards a new and innovative strategies for the conservation of cultural heritage.
The research challenge is to understand and predict the long-term material degradation (ageing) in artworks and other objects we want to preserve as cultural heritage, which eventually should lead to a scientifically sound basis for maintenance strategies and procedures. This research theme aims at developing models based on scientific evidence to depict the past, elucidate the present and predict the future conditions of objects.
The research challenge is the development of new diagnostic tools and technologies (multi-scale and multi-technique) for research of cultural heritage objects. Innovation in this area relies on the development, refinement and integration of existing, new or evolving technologies into the museum and cultural heritage fields. This demands the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge, such as image analysis or feature detection, from diverse fields (such as,mathematics, materials and structural engineering, physics, chemistry) into cultural heritage applications.