Netherlands Institute for Conservation Art and Science

The Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS) is a multidisciplinary research institute. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), the University of Amsterdam and the Delft University of Technology are its founding partners. Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits chairs the NICAS Board. Robert van Langh, head of the Rijksmuseum’s conservation department, is responsible for the daily management and research agenda of NICAS.

NICAS brings together the humanities (especially the disciplines of art history, history, and conservation), the natural sciences (chemistry and physics) and data science (computer science and mathematics). NICAS seeks to integrate these disciplines in a lasting framework that is geared towards solving cultural heritage research problems, resulting in a community that operates across and beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The main objective of research within NICAS is to access, understand and preserve our cultural heritage. The research agenda focuses on three interlinked focus areas:

  • Art history - how was the object made and what did it look like?
  • Material dynamics - how did the object change and how will it change?
  • Conservation - what can and should we do about change?

Advanced diagnostics and data science support these focus areas: how can we detect, visualise and model what is taking place in objects? Ideally, research projects bring together as many disciplines as possible, looking at objects and processes from complementary angles.

Research projects will produce fundamental knowledge on hitherto little understood processes of change. However, NICAS also seeks to find practical applications of this knowledge in the heritage field in the form of guidelines and best practices. An important goal is to find the safest ways of presenting the objects to the public and heighten public appreciation for the object as a dynamic material entity. NICAS seeks to optimally preserve cultural heritage objects for future generations by slowing down degradation processes and, when possible and desirable, treating harmful effects of change over time.

For more information about NICAS, the structure of the organisation, the research projects and upcoming events, please visit