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Dr M.R. van Bommel (1968) has been appointed professor of Conservation Science at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Science.

Prof Maarten van Bommel
Photo: Dirk Gillissen

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.  

In his new position, Van Bommel will also be 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's new position also has a strong connection with the Amsterdam Conservation Center, 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.

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).