Fotograaf: Dirk Gillissen

dhr. prof. dr. M.R. (Maarten) van Bommel

Natuurwetenschappelijke aspecten van conservering en restauratie van roerend cultureel erfgoed
  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
    Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica
    T: 0205254120
    T: 0625534931
  • Joh. Vermeerplein 1, 1071 DV Amsterdam

Maarten van Bommel is Professor of Conservation Science At the faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science. He is chair of the section Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Department of Arts & Culture). In addition, he is member of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Science. Van Bommel's is member of the Scientific Working Group of the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Sciencer (NICAS), which is currently being established, in which the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Delft University of Technology and the UvA are clustering their strengths.

Maarten van Bommel studies the characterisation and behaviour of dyes and organic pigments, both of natural and synthetic origin, and their application in moveable cultural heritage. The research entails chemical analysis, the study of historical sources, the production of reconstructions and the study of degradation mechanisms. The ultimate aim is to obtain a better understanding of the original appearance of artistic and cultural objects so that they may be placed in their historical context and presented accordingly.

Van Bommel is also engaged in the scientific study of conservation and restoration practices, taking both a theoretical and applied approach. As the appointment is to both the Faculty of Humanities and the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS - Faculty of Science), it builds a bridge between art and culture studies on the one hand, and sciences on the other - two disciplines of equal and significant importance to restorers. Van Bommel has been employed as a senior scientist at the Cultural Heritage Agency since 2011. He worked previously as a programme leader and senior researcher for the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, whose work includes managing the Dutch State’s art collection. Van Bommel has published numerous articles. The books he has co-authored include Inside Out Victory Boogie Woogie; a Material History of Mondrian’s Masterpiece (Amsterdam University Press, 2012).

Guus Verhaar (UvA): Glass sickness - its detection, prevention and treatment

Supervisors: Norman Tennent, Maarten van Bommel


Kate van Lookeren Campagne: Developments in the technology of tin-glaze tile production in the Northern Netherlands between 1580 and 1850 and the influence on susceptibility for glaze deterioration.

Supervisors: Maarten van Bommel, Norman Tennent


Anna Lagana: Back to transparency, back to life: Conservation and restoration of transparent plastics in works of art and design.

Supervisors: Maarten van Bommel, Dr. Rachel Rivenc (Getty Conservation Institute)


Jonas Veenhoven: PHySICAL: Profound study of Hydrous and Solvent Interactions in Cleaning Asian Lacquer


Supervisors: Maarten van Bommel, Prof. dr. Frederic Lynen (Ghent University)


Graduated PhDs

Ana Serrano (CHAM): The Red Road of the Iberian Expansion: cochineal and the global dye trade. (2016)

Supervisors: Jessica Hallett, Maarten van Bommel

Daria Confortin: Aging of cultural heritage materials: a physico-chemical approach to conservation science. Studies on paper, parchment, pigments and dyes


Archaeological metal surface research (AMOR)

Within this NWO funded project we will investigate the possibilities to reveal information preserved on the surface of silver and gold objects, underneath a corrosion layer. Using imaging techniques and chemical analysis, information on the making of these objects can be discovered.

Aim of the project

Archaeological metal contains a wealth of information, especially on the historical context. In particular the surface, where surface decoration and gilding are located, is important. This knowledge ultimately helps us to better understand the culture of our ancestors. But that same surface is subject to degradation, and abrasive preservation treatments such as polishing can have a negative effect on the legibility of the metal. This is why it is important that relevant information about the object and its context is not lost after excavation. This project investigates the best way to extract information from archaeological precious metals before it is lost due to degradation and / or preservation treatments.

An unique find

The finds from the Palmwood wreck contains a unique group of precious metal objects. These probably belong to a virtually intact personal ensemble from the seventeenth century, probably unique,  without known historical parallels. The objects are also interesting from an art-technological point of view, because of their almost unpolished state. Research into these precious objects provides a better understanding of the objects, also in connection with the other finds from the wreck. The focus of the present research is mainly on the steps that can be taken to extract relevant information as optimally as possible, whereby a selection of state-of-the-art analytical techniques will be applied. The applied method of research will lead to an improved research and conservation strategy for precious metal post-excavation. This research will lead to the development of an interdisciplinary, innovative strategy after excavation, which is of importance for those involved with handling archaeological precious metal.

Combatting light-induced
decay of art, food and more

NWO-TTW grant for TooCOLD: Toolbox for studying the Chemistry Of Light-induced Degradation

A multidisciplinary research team coordinated by University of Amsterdam professor Maarten van Bommel has been awarded a NWO grant to develop a 'Toolbox for studying the Chemistry Of Light-induced Degradation'. The so-called 'TooCOLD' project will provide new insights to protect works of art, to improve water purification systems and to ensure the quality and safety of food.

The team consist of researchers from the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) and the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), both at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and the Division of Bioanalytical Chemistry and the Section Biophotonics and Medical Imaging at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

Coordinated by Maarten van Bommel, who holds positions at both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities of the UvA, the TooCOLD team will combine advanced analytical instrumentation, light-exposure technology and sophisticated data-analysis techniques to provide fundamental insights into the degradation mechanisms of many different components. An integral system will be developed to study light-induced degradation in a very fast and efficient way, speeding up the process by at least a factor of 20.

Challenging research

Many organic compounds change under the influence of light, in particular ultraviolet (UV) light. This can be beneficial, for example in water purification, but in many other cases light induces undesirable phenomena. It results, for instance, in fading of cultural-heritage objects, affecting their esthetical value. It can also cause degradation of healthy food ingredients (e.g. vitamins), or entail the formation of toxic components.

Studying these and other photochemical conversion processes is very challenging as it is often difficult to establish a strong link between the degradation products and the starting materials. In general this results in rather poor models for the prediction of light-induced degradation. Adding to this, degradation studies can be very time consuming.

The TooCOLD project aims at developing an innovative, high-resolution and fully orthogonal system to speed up the study the degradation of a wide range of  components (including complex mixtures)  under the influence of light. This will be done in three steps:

  • First, the starting mixture will be separated using liquid chromatography (LC). The isolated components will be characterized by means of on-line mass spectrometry (MS) and trapped in an exposure cell for (surface-enhanced) resonance Raman Spectroscopy (SE)RRS.
  • Next, these isolated components will be degraded in the exposure cell by light using e.g. lasers and/or LEDs, a process which can be monitored using (SE)RRS. This will help us understand the degradation mechanisms and will indicate whether the degradation is at a stage to proceed to the next separation step.
  • The degradation products will then be separated using LC coupled with high-resolution MS.

Degradation can thus be studied in an extremely fast, yet comprehensive way. Furthermore, the effect of degradation conditions can be studied by adding inhibitors or catalysts, or by varying the pH. An important aspect of the study is the development of data-analysis tools to identify the transformation products formed.

In the TooCOld project two PhD students and one postdoc will be appointed. It will be carried out within the Centre for Analytical Science Amsterdam (CASA, in which UvA and VU join forces) and in collaboration with LaserLab Amsterdam (hosted at the VU University, with participating research groups at the UvA, AMC and VUmc). Other partners are Unilever, the Van Gogh Museum, the cultural heritage agency of The Netherlands (RCE), PWN Technologies, KWR Watercycle Research Institute, and Da Vinci Laboratory Solutions.



  • Astefanei, A., van Bommel, M., & Corthals, G. L. (2017). Surface Acoustic Wave Nebulisation Mass Spectrometry for the Fast and Highly Sensitive Characterisation of Synthetic Dyes in Textile Samples. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 28(10), 2108-2116. DOI: 10.1007/s13361-017-1716-x  [details] 
  • van Dam, E. P., van den Berg, K. J., Proaño Gaibor, A. N., & van Bommel, M. (2017). Analysis of triglyceride degradation products in drying oils and oil paints using LC–ESI-MS. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 413, 33-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijms.2016.09.004  [details] 
  • Han, J., Wanrooij, J., van Bommel, M., & Quye, A. (2017). Characterisation of chemical components for identifying historical Chinese textile dyes by ultra high performance liquid chromatography – photodiode array – electrospray ionisation mass spectrometer. Journal of Chromatography A, 1479, 87-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2016.11.044  [details] 
  • de Keijzer, M., & van Bommel, M. R. (2017). Bright new colours: the history and analysis of fluorescein, eosin, erythrosine, rhodamine and some of their derivatives. In J. Kirby (Ed.), The diversity of dyes in history and archaeology (pp. 326-338). London: Archetype Publications. [details] 


  • Pirok, B. W. J., Knip, J., van Bommel, M. R., & Schoenmakers, P. J. (2016). Characterization of synthetic dyes by comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography combining ion-exchange chromatography and fast ion-pair reversed-phase chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A, 1436, 141-146. DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2016.01.070  [details] 
  • Verhaar, G., van Bommel, M. R., & Tennent, N. H. (2016). Weeping Glass: The Identification of Ionic Species on the Surface of Vessel Glass Using Ion Chromatography. In H. Roemich, & L. Fair (Eds.), Recent advances in glass and ceramics conservation 2016: ICOM-CC Glass and Ceramics working group interim meeting (pp. 123-133). Paris: International Council of Museums. [details] 


  • Hartl, A., Proaño Gaibor, A. N., van Bommel, M. R., & Hofmann-de Keijzer, R. (2015). Searching for blue: Experiments with woad fermentation vats and an explanation of the colours through dye analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science, (2), 9-39.
  • Hartl, A., van Bommel, M. R., Joosten, I., Hoffman-de Keijzer, R., Grömer, K., Rösel-Maurendorfer, H., & Reschreiter, H. (2015). Reproducing colourful woven bands from the Iron Age salt mine of Hallstatt in Austria: An interdisciplinary approach to acquire knowledge of prehistoric dyeing technology. Journal of Archaeological Science, (2), 569-595.
  • Lipkin, S., Vajanto, K., Kallio-Seppä, T., Kuokkanen, T., Niinimäki, S., Väre, T., & van Bommel, M. (2015). Funeral dress and textiles in 17th and 19th century burials in Ostrobothnia, Finland. In K. Grömer, & F. Pritchard (Eds.), Aspects of the design, production and use of textiles and clothing from the bronze age to the early modern era: NESAT XII, the North European Symposium of Archaeological Textiles (pp. 209-222). Budapest: Archaeolingua Alapítvány. [details] 
  • Serrano, A., Van den Doel, A., van Bommel, M., Hallett, J., Joosten, I., & van den Berg, K. J. (2015). Investigation of crimson-dyed fibres for a new approach on the characterization of cochineal and kermes dyes in historical textiles. Analytica Chimica Acta, 897, 116-127. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2015.09.046  [details] 


  • Vajanto, K., & van Bommel, M. R. (2014). DYED TEXTILES FROM LATE IRON AGE FINLAND. Archaeological Dialogues, 31, 61-78.


  • Lamain, B., van Bommel, M. R., Verhaar, G., & Tennent, N. H. (2013). The Development of an Ion Chromatography Protocol for Detecting the Early Stages of Glass Degradation. In H. Roemich, & K. van Lookeren Campagne (Eds.), Recent advances in glass, stained-glass, and ceramics conservation 2013 (pp. 303-311). Zwolle: SPA uitgevers.


  • van Bommel, M. R., Verhaar, G., & Tennent, N. H. (2017). The validation and application of a reproducible analytical protocol for the study of unstable glass. 1. Poster session presented at ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


  • Verhaar, G., van Bommel, M. R., & Tennent, N. H. (2015). Identification and documentation of the early stages of glass sickness. In G. Eggert, & A. Fischer (Eds.), Glass Deterioration Colloquium - Extended Abstract. - Session I: Glass Deterioration & Conservation (pp. 18-21). Stuttgart: State Academy of Art and Design Stuttgart. [details] 


  • van Bommel, M. R., Janssen, H., & Spronk, R. (2014). After the Fact: Evaluating our Interdisciplinary Study of Mondrian's Victory Boogie Woogie. In A. Sgamellotti, B. G. Brunetti, & C. Miliani (Eds.), Science and Art, The Painted Surface (pp. 427-443). London: Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • van Bommel, M. R., Jansen, H., & Spronk, R. (2012). Inside out Victory Boogie Woogie, A material history of Mondrian’s masterpiece. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.


  • Confortin, D., Neevel, H., Brustolon, M., Franco, L., Kettelarij, A. J., Williams, R. M., & van Bommel, M. R. (2010). Crystal violet: Study of the photo-fading of an early synthetic dye in aqueous solution and on paper with HPLC-PDA, LC-MS and FORS. Journal of Physics. Conference Series, 231, 012011. DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/231/1/012011  [details] 


  • Joosten, I., & van Bommel, M. R. (2017). Many shades of brown: The condition and colour of Dutch archaeological textiles from dryland sandy soils, bogs, and the sea. In S. Kluiving, L. Kootker, & R. Hermans (Eds.), Interdisciplinarity between humanities and science: A festschrift in honour of Prof. Dr. Henk Kars (pp. 99-111). (Clues: interdisciplinary studies in cultures, history and heritage; Vol. 2). Leiden: Sidestone Press. [details] 
  • van Adrichem, F., & van Bommel, M. (2017). Retouching without Touching: Creating the illusion of recoloured furniture through light projection. In M. Vasques Dias (Ed.), Material Imitation and Imitation Materials in Furniture and Conservation: Thirteenth Symposium on Wood and Furniture Conservation (pp. 33-47). (Proceeedings; Vol. 13). Amsterdam: Stichting Ebenist. [details] 


  • Timmer, J., & van Bommel, M. R. (2015). Synthetische kleurstoffen als beits op hout: een onderzoek naar de ontkleuring. In Handelingen: Van School tot Stijl, Modernisme in de Meubelkunst 1915-1940 (Vol. 11, pp. 10-17). Utrecht.
  • van Adrichem, F. B., van Bommel, M. R., Ligterink, F., & Nijhuis, S. M. (2015). Licht op Kramer: Retoucheren met gekleurd licht van ontkleurde anilinebeitsafwerkingen op Amsterdamse School-meubels. In M. Vasques Dias (Ed.), Van School tot Stijl: Modernisme in de meubelkunst 1915-1940 (pp. 18-30). (Handelingen; Vol. 11). Utrecht: Stichting Ebenist.
  • van Bommel, M. R. (2015). Op zoek naar de ‘juiste’ kleur. In Handelingen: Van School tot Stijl, Modernisme in de Meubelkunst 1915-1940 (pp. 5-9). (Handelingen; Vol. 11). Utrecht: Stichting Ebenist.
  • Proaño Gaibor, A. N., & van Bommel, M. (2015). Hidden history behind the colorants of banners. In Proceedings of the 25th International Congress of Vexillology: Rotterdam, The Netherlands 4-10 August 2013 FIAV. [details] 


  • Keune, K., Bisschoff, M., Raven, L., Geldof, M., van Keulen, H., Megens, L., ... Leeuwestein, M. (2016). Delamination due to Zinc Soap Formation in an Oil Painting by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Poster session presented at Metal Soaps in Art, Amsterdam, .


  • van Bommel, M. R. (2018). NICAS funding.
  • van Bommel, M. (2017). Back to the objects Part 2: Taking Patterns and technical analysis.
  • van Bommel, M. R. (2017). NWO grant to develop a 'Toolbox for studying the Chemistry Of Light-induced Degradation'.
  • van Bommel, M., Schoenmakers, P. J., Somsen, G., Ariese, F. & de Voogt, W. P. (2017). TooCOLD: Toolbox for studying the Chemistry Of Light-induced Degradation.
  • van Bommel, M. (2016). WETDRESS.
  • van Bommel, M. (2016). Back to the objects - Conservation strategies.
  • van Bommel, M. (2016). COLD - feasibility study.
  • van Bommel, M. (2015). IPERION-CH.
  • van Bommel, M. (2015). PAPTEX - Texts and Textiles in Late Antique Egypt.

Wetenschappelijke positie

  • van Bommel, M. (2015-2035). Member Scientific working groep, NICAS: Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science.


  • van Bommel, M. (16-06-2017). Maarten van Bommel at Bessensap. Maarten van Bommel at Bessensap.
  • van Bommel, M. (16-06-2017). Nieuw licht op oude kunstobjecten. Nieuw licht op oude kunstobjecten.
  • van Bommel, M. (14-04-2016). In Waddenzee gevonden jurk uit 17e eeuw tentoongesteld [Web] Hart van Nederland. 17th Century royal wardrobe found in the Wadden Sea.
  • van Bommel, M. (27-10-2015). Kleurenlab. Kleurenlab toont onderzoek naar conservering en reconstructie van kleur.


  • van Bommel, M. (reviewer) (2013-2021). Journal of dyes in History and Archaeology (Journal).


  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (30-11-2017). Het kleurrijke verleden geretoucheerd., Opening Da Vinci Laboratories, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • van Bommel, M. (speaker) (23-11-2017). TooCOLD: Toolbox for studying the Chemistry of Light-induced Degradation, NICAS colloquium, biweekly, Amsterdam.
  • van Bommel, M. (speaker) (13-11-2017). “Back to the Objects”, characterisation and conservation of textiles found in the shipwreck BZN17, NICAS, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • Hofmann-de Keijzer, R. (speaker), van Bommel, M. (speaker), Joosten, C. (speaker), Bogensperger, I. (speaker) & Rösel-Mautendorfer, H. (speaker) (26-10-2017). Textile dyeing in Late Antique Egypt – sources, analysis and interpretation, 36 annual meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, London, United Kingdom.
  • Albano Serrano, A. F. (speaker), van Bommel, M. (speaker) & Joosten, C. (speaker) (26-10-2017). A TIME-CAPSULE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA The material study of 17th-century textiles found in the Wadden Sea, 36 annual meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, London, United Kingdom.
  • van Bommel, M. (speaker) (17-6-2017). Terug naar de objecten, Universiteitsdag UvA, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (16-6-2017). Kunst of kitsch? Digitale retouchering van verkleurde kunst., Bessensap, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • van Bommel, M. (speaker) (11-5-2017). Conservation science in perspectief, De rol van de natuurwetenschappen in conservering en restauratie van cultureel erfgoed, oratie, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (2-3-2017). The use of liquid chromatography for the understanding of dyeing processes., Scientific approaches to First Millennium AD textiles from Egypt: Dye Analysis, London, United Kingdom.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (8-12-2016). Op zoek naar de ‘juiste’ kleur, Optimaliseren van Impact door Alfa– en Gammawetenschappen, Tilburg, Netherlands.
  • van Bommel, M. (speaker) (5-10-2016). Looking for the ‘right’ colour: Virtual retouching of an early 20th century cabinet designed by Piet Kramer, 35 annual meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, Pisa, Italy.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (30-6-2016). Colours throughout the Centuries:From analytical result to object presentation, The University of Lisbon.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker), Janssen, H. (speaker) & Spronk, R. (speaker) (20-4-2016). After the Fact: Evaluating our Interdisciplinary Study of Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie, International conference and OSK Modern and Contemporary Section annual meeting, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
  • Seymour, K. (speaker) & van Bommel, M. (speaker) (15-4-2016). Experiential Learning: How science concepts are taught to Young Conservators, ICOM-CC Joint interim meeting, Boston, United States.
  • van Bommel, M. (invited speaker) (7-11-2015). Op zoek naar de ‘juiste’ kleur, Museumnacht bij Bijzondere Collecties & Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


  • van Bommel, M. (member of programme committee) (27-10-2017). 36 annual meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology, London, United Kingdom. Dyes in History and Archaeology 36 (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • van Bommel, M. (examiner) (9-5-2017). "Metal soaps in oil paint: Structure, mechanisms and dynamics." by Joen Hermans, memeber of committee (examination).
  • van Bommel, M. (examiner) (30-11-2016). Naar inzicht en vakmanschap. A.-J. Roubo’s L’ Art du menuisier over interieurbouw en meubelmakerij in de achttiende eeuw. (examination).
  • van Bommel, M. (examiner) (29-6-2016). Between Concept and Material. Working with Conceptual Art: A Conservator’s Testimony (examination).
  • van Bommel, M. (participant) (28-10-2015 - 14-2-2016). Exhibition "Kleurenlab", coinciding the exhibition "Op zoek naar van Santen" (other).


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