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The Interviews in Conservation Initiative is keen to organize workshops on the theory and practice of oral history in conservation in collaboration with its partners. Workshops focus on interview techniques, tips and tricks in recording, the use of automatic transcription, the use of metadata, and disclosing and archiving interview material. The University of Amsterdam has incorporated artist interviews in the Contemporary Art specialisation of the training programme Conservation and Restoration since its start in 2005.

Courses in MA Conservation and Restoration

The Master's programme in conservation offers classes on oral history theory and interviews in conservation research for all specialisations. This includes lectures on theory and practice using real-life examples, insight in the experience of previous students, and practical exercises on interview techniques. The Contemporary Art students conduct interviews with artists, their assistants or heirs, related to the artworks they are treating. In addition to conservation science and humanities research methods, students use oral history methods throughout their 4-year training programme. Students gradually build up experience with this research method, including a critical approach to the way they interpret their source material.

  • Master theses

    Many of the research projects of the Conservation and Restoration students include research through oral history methods. This is particularly the case for the specialisation in Contemporary Art, for example for Alice Watkins’ study on Woody van Amen’s Ice Machine sculptures, Stefanie Janson’s thesis on a multi-faceted installation by Lydia Schouten, and Karolien Withof’s study on Jan van Munster’s motorized light installations. In addition, the other specialisations have come to use this method more and more. For conducting conservator interviews, for instance, as paintings conservator Jazzy de Groot did to learn more about soft and sagging oil paints, Historic interiors conservator Hinke Sigmond to better analyse the material condition of historic interiors, and Aafke Weller for a paper conservation treatment method. These are important contributions to the conservation history in the Netherlands. Textiles conservator Lieke Boerstra has conducted interviews with a diver about how salvaged archeological finds from the bottom of the ocean. This demonstrates the increasing use of oral history as a research method in conservation

Workshops and Symposia

The Interviews in Conservation Initiative organises workshops and symposia as part of various projects.

Interview Techniques Master Classes

In addition to the courses given to new students in conservation as part of their training programme at the UvA, the Interviews in Conservation Initiative aspires to regularly organise master classes on interview techniques related to conservation, including conservation ethics and reflective practice. Over 20 years of experience in places around Europe, from Copenhagen and Helsinki to Tallinn and Vienna, as well as for PhD training programmes, including the yearly Oral History and Life Stories course and as part the Summer School for NACCA.

If you are interested, please contact us.


Oral History – Stories at the Museum around Artworks (OH-SMArt) is a long-term initiative to significantly improve the digital research chain around using Oral History and spoken narratives, with research into artworks and museums as a use case. OH-SMArt organizes practical workshops for conservators and museum staff who are using oral history as a research method in relation to their collections. In addition, a yearly symposium is organized in collaboration with project partners, to aid in dissemination of the project’s results and to share knowledge between project partners and other interested parties.

Go to the OH-SMArt web page