The Andrew W. Mellon Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Program

Published Deadline Location
30 Jan 17 Mar Amsterdam

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‘An International Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’

Job description

NICAS Research Associates
The Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS) welcomes outstanding early career researchers working on the material aspects of cultural heritage with an open mind and a strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS) is an interdisciplinary research institute uniting the disciplines of conservation, art history and science. Its main hub is the Ateliergebouw in Amsterdam, and its founding partners are the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the Faculties of Humanities and Science of the University of Amsterdam and the Delft University of Technology. NICAS fosters innovative research on the access, presentation and preservation of cultural heritage, and functions as an institute for the advanced study of the history of materials.

NICAS welcomes applications from international, independent researchers who have a background in object-related research of cultural heritage. The purpose of the Research Associates is to make a contribution to the development of an international research infrastructure for heritage science. This infrastructure should encourage dialogue about the study, presentation and preservation of cultural heritage and contribute to academic discourse about knowledge-based conservation and collection management strategies. It will thus strengthen the bonds between researchers working in museums, universities and heritage institutions worldwide.

The programme enables highly talented candidates to make a contribution towards the development of the cultural heritage research field. It offers access to the expertise and research facilities available within NICAS. Furthermore, the programme facilitates opportunities for Research Associates to engage in workshops and conferences and to build their international network, thus encouraging the exchange of knowledge – both amongst themselves and the global heritage research community.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation enables candidates to research and draft a Road Map for Heritage Science in the following object categories:

  • Book, paper and photographic materials.
  • Contemporary Art.
  • Glass, ceramics, stone, metals (objects).
  • Painting.
  • Textiles.
  • Wood and Furniture.

The Research Associates’ projects will focus on:

  • Scientific breakthroughs that have transformed the way in which objects are interpreted and conserved.
  • The main problems and challenges facing the field that heritage science can help solve.
  • The harmonization of terminology for degradation phenomena and conservation methods.

The Research Associates start their positions in September 2020 and will each visit the ICOM-CC triennial meeting in Beijing to kickstart their projects. After an initial period at the Amsterdam Ateliergebouw, the main hub of NICAS, and based on the material categories involved, the initial literature review and interviews and in dialogue with an International Advisory Committee, the Research Associates will visit one or more heritage research institutes abroad. During these immersive site visits, the Research Associates will explore how the collaboration between art historians, conservators and scientists functions locally.

The Research Associate will hold a position at the Rijksmuseum, as one of the lead partners of NICAS. The Rijksmuseum will provide joint working space for the Research Associates, in order to stimulate an exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience. Access will be given to all relevant resources in the museum, such as the  Research Library Collections, collection documentation and the Rijksmuseum’s archives, as well as facilities of the other NICAS partners that may be of benefit to the Research Associates’ projects.


Rijksmuseum Amsterdam


  • The funding by The Andrew W. Mellon Program ‘An International Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’ supports post-master’s and postdoctoral candidates whose research is compatible with the position and scope of the Research Associate.
  • Positions are open to candidates of all nationalities and with varied specialisms. They may include researchers specialising in materials sciences, technical art history, conservation or related studies.
  • Candidates should have proven research capabilities, academic credentials and excellent written and spoken knowledge of the English language.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 12 months.

Stipends are awarded to help support study and research efforts during the tenure of the appointment. The stipend of €39,000 for PhD-level (post-Master’s) Research Associates or €45,000 for postdoctoral Research Associates (subject to taxes and deductions) is for a period of twelve months commencing 1 September 2020, the start of the academic year. Candidates applying for a postdoctoral-level stipend must have obtained their PhD degree on the date of application.

Housing in Amsterdam will be provided for the duration of the appointment (please note that this may be counted as additional income for tax purposes).

The program will allow for travel that is necessary in the context of their projects to a maximum value of €7,500 for the duration of their appointment, as well as reimbursement of travel and lodging to attend program events after the appointment ends. The Rijksmuseum will cover visa fees for the Research Associate, but not for dependents.


  • Research, development, innovation
  • Behaviour and society; Language and culture
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • T Heritage Science


Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

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