Conservation and research

Scientific research is essential for all museum-related activities, in terms of procurement, preservation and restoration as well as development, education and presentation.

With its dedicated experts, the Rijksmuseum has gained a well-established reputation in the field of historical and art historical research, making it a highly valued partner in academic research and education. Research relating to objects and art objects, particularly acquisitions, is frequently discussed in articles published in The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, the Rijksmuseum’s academic journal. The collections are accessible via index catalogues, specialized exhibition catalogues and other publications.

Atelier Building

The Atelier Building is a centre for restoration and preservation, scientific practice, research and education, where Dutch cultural heritage can be preserved and administered under the very best conditions. In the Atelier Building, the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) pool their knowledge of restoration and preservation. With this combination of research, teaching and practical application under one roof, this evolving centre of expertise is unique, not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide.

Conservation and research projects

Preservation, conservation and research are the core tasks at the Rijksmuseum. The aim of a preservation treatment is to conserve an object. Furthermore, in the case of restoration, the goal is to do justice to the historical nature, the object’s appearance and its characteristic material properties

The following are examples of some of the projects which were part of one large restoration project for the opening of the new Rijksmuseum in 2013.

Wenzel Jamnitzer, silver table ornament, 1549

This table ornament by the renowned humanist and silversmith Wenzel Jamnitzer is one of the absolute highlights of the Rijksmuseum’s collection of European silversmithery. The ornament has a height of one metre and is made entirely of gold-plated silver. The object is tarnished and is showing signs of black-brown corrosion. Previously treated parts are different in appearance from the rest of the object and some parts of it have broken off. This ornament will be put on show in a display case. The design of this display case must ensure that the substances which can turn the silver black are unable to penetrate it. The pioneering research into such a display case is not only important for this particular ornament, but also for preservation research in general, and this knowledge will be shared with experts from the field at specialist gatherings.

Pierre Prud'hon, family portrait of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck, 1801-1802

Pierre Prud’hon was the court painter of Emperor Napoleon. In 1801-1802 he painted the family portrait of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck, with his wife Catharina Nahuys and his children Catharina and Gerrit. This painting is one of the new Rijksmuseum’s permanent pieces in the last 18th century art exhibition room, featuring the Batavian Republic. This official portrait is the centrepiece in this hall. The painting was shrouded by a thick yellowed layer of varnish, causing it to lose not only its colour palette, but also its depth. In addition, the canvas showed signs of dilapidation incurred over time. The bottom edge in particular was damaged by peeling paint. Old restoration work (retouching) had become visible over the years.

The Beuning Room, 1748

The Beuning Room, a 1748 mahogany period room, is permanently on display in the renovated Rijksmuseum, allowing the public to wander through one of the most beautiful rooms ever created on the banks of the renowned canals of Amsterdam. During the restoration process, which began in 2008, the following issues have arisen: removal of paint from the stucco ceiling, reconstruction of the floor and reupholstering of the walls.