Dr E. Hendriks (b. 1960) has been appointed professor of Conservation and Restoration at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Humanities, a permanent chair in the Faculty’s Department of Arts & Culture previously held by Anne van Grevenstein-Kruse and Jørgen Wadum.
Ella Hendriks has worked as a conservator of paintings for thirty years, mainly for museums, enabling her to accumulate a profound knowledge of the subject and extensive practical experience in every aspect of the day-to-day and long-term care of cultural heritage. Her work has ranged from assessing the condition of paintings and drawing up plans for treating collections, to advising on requirements for storage, transport and display of exhibits, as well as preparation, coordination and execution of (often complex) conservation and restoration treatments. She operates within an international network and endeavours to promote knowledge about the work of conservators among a broad public.
Ella Hendriks believes that proper research into conservation is only possible if the real questions relating to the subject are addressed on the basis of a substantial knowledge of conservation practice. At the same time, academic research can help establish appropriate guidelines for preventive care and risk management of collections, and knowledge about possible approaches and methods and materials for conservation and restoration should be shared. Experimental research can also lead to the development of new diagnostic techniques and methods. For Hendriks, it is therefore essential that her work connects academic research and practice.
In her research, Hendriks will focus on developing conservation methods and strategies, and on applying methods and guidelines from an ethical and scientific perspective. ‘One example is the research I am engaged in with the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) and other partners on how light changes colours in paintings’, Hendriks explains. ‘We are looking at how this impacts on our appreciation of artworks today and how we should adapt certain aspects of conservation, restoration and presentation.’ Another area of her research concerns decision-making in relation to the cleaning of artworks, i.e. the removal of old varnish or layers of dirt from the surface of a painting. On this topic she is working closely with Dr Klaas Jan van den Berg, newly appointed professor of Chemical Aspects of Conservation of Cultural Heritage with a special focus on paintings. She will also study the history of conservation and restoration of moveable cultural heritage as a basis for reflection on contemporary theory and practice.
Hendriks will play a central part in the current research programme at the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS). She will also launch new research projects, jointly with Maarten van Bommel, professor of Conservation Science, which will not be confined within faculty bounds and will contribute to Dutch and international research programmes and conservation networks.
Hendriks will teach courses in the one-year minor and two-year Master’s programmes in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, and the two-year post-Master’s programme leading to a qualification as restorer. Both as an educator and a researcher Hendriks is constantly aware of the need to link research and practice, as well as the vital importance of connecting humanities and sciences in conservation practice.
Hendriks studied art history and painting conservation at Manchester and Cambridge in England. She gained her doctorate at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) with a technical art-historical thesis on the work of Vincent van Gogh. From 1988 to 1999, she was chief conservator at the Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem. Since 1999, Hendriks has worked as senior paintings conservator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. She has combined this position since January 2014 with the post of associate professor at the UvA’s Conservation and Restoration course.