Herman den Otter is lecturer in conservation and restoration of wooden objects at the Masters-programme in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage. He teaches on a wide range of theoretical and practical subjects in the field of restoration of wooden objects, in particular furniture, both in the classroom and the studio in the University's Ateliergebouw on the Hobbemastraat in Amsterdam. He is a specialist in the study and reconstruction of historical design and production techniques in fine-woodworking.
In his research, Den Otter studies both written and visual sources aa well as historical objects that can provide information on the technical, social and economic history of the fine-woodworking trades in the Netherlands and France up to 1940.
He has recently finished his dissertation on André-Jacob Roubo’s L’Art du menuisier (1769-1775), a widely consulted but little understood handbook on interior woodwork and cabinet making. The aim of this research project has been to analyse its contents and elucidate its background and intended purpose.
- Naar inzicht en vakmanschap. André-Jacob Roubo’s L’Art du menuisier over interieurbouw en meubelmakerij in de achttiende eeuw. Dissertation University of Amsterdam. (André-Jacob Roubo’s L’Art du menuisier on interior woodwork and cabinet making in the eighteenth century.) Badhoevedorp, 2016.
- 'Changes in the role of the joiner in eighteenth-century Paris.' Colloque Université de Lausanne/Courtauld Institute, to be published 2018.
- ‘Patina on furniture.’ in: Vasques Dias, Miko. (ed.) Vernacular furniture. Proceedings ninth international symposium on wood and furniture conservation. Amsterdam: Stichting Ebenist, 2008. p. 10-15.
- ‘De houten etspers in het Rembrandthuis.’ Kroniek van het Rembrandthuis. (2009) p. 36-45.
- De Nederlandse meubelmakerij 1600-1940. Amsterdam, 2011
- ‘L’Art du menuisier d’André-Jacob Roubo: une source pour l’étude de l’histoire du mobilier.’ Technè. no. 38. (2013) p. 53-58.
- ‘Craftsmen and gentlemen.’ in: Dubois, Hélène, et al. (ed.) Making and transforming art: technology and interpretation. Proceedings of the fifth symposium of the ICOM-CC working group for Art Technological Source Research. London: Archetype, 2014. p. 139-140.
- ‘Simon de Boer,’ and ‘Hein Stolle.’ in: Nederlandse kunst 1991. Rijksaankopen. Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst. Den Haag, 1991.
Den Otter trained as a furniture restorer at the the dutch Ministry of Culture and Education's Opleiding Restauratoren (1980-1984). He has worked as a restorer for many museums in the Netherlands, including the Frans Hals Museum, Teylers Museum, the Mauritshuis (The Hague), Duivenvoorde Castle (Voorschoten), the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo) and the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).
Before his appointment as a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, Den Otter taught furniture restoration at the Hout- en Meubileringscollege (Cabinetmaking School) and the Instituut Collectie Nederland (Institute for Cultural Heritage), both in Amsterdam.