Antwerp Cultural Heritage Sciences

Welcome to the AntweRp Cultural HEritage Sciences (ARCHES) research group

ARCHES is a research group of the Faculty of Design Sciences associated with the educational programs of Conservation-Restoration and Heritage studies. The acronym is not only a nod towards the Gothic arches decorating the inner yard of our campus, it refers explicitely to the group's mission to build bridges between various scientific fields as well. In particular, cultural heritage sciences is an umbrella name for different types of research, performed in a transdisciplinary way  in pursuit of improving the conservation of both tangible and intangible heritage.

Consequently, research in cultural heritage sciences can be typically situated in one or more disciplines of Life, Social and Natural Sciences (e.g. history, art history, engineering, analytical chemistry etc.), but distinguishes itself from these fields by a different finality in the sense that research is performed with the explicit and exclusive aim to enhance the preservation and/or curative treatment of heritage. To accomplish this, research typically employs a combination of methods and tools developed in the aforementioned disciplines but does not necessarily improve the state-of-the-art of these fields, as the true innovation lies within cultural heritage sciences.

Within the ensuing range of research topics ARCHES has defined four research spearheads:

  • Critical heritage studies
  • Built Heritage
  • Chemical characterisation and imaging of heritage materials
  • Study of historical sources and (reproduction of) technology

Geert Van der Snickt on scanning Van Eyck: watch the movie

In this short movie, prof. Van der Snickt discusses the insights obtained on Van Eyck's portrait of his wife Margaretha. The movie was commissioned by Musea Brugge, for the Van Eyck in Bruges exhibition in 2020.

News & Events

December 2020: C-R alumna Stefanie De Winter successfully defended her PhD dissertation in Art History at the KUL entitled ‘Flattened Intensities: An Empirically Informed Assessment of Frank Stella's Fluorescent Paintings from the Sixties’ with Prof. Geert Van der Snickt as co-promotor.

July 2020: Van der Snickt et al publish article on Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece in Science Advances (I.F. 12)

June 2020: Tim De Kock on built heritage in Renoscripto.

June 2020: ARCHES welcomes Sebastiaan Godts (PhD student, BRAIN 2.0, project PREDICT). Sebastiaan will investigate phase transitions of salts in building materials under changing climatic conditions with the aim to predict salt crystallization damage.

February 2020: ARCHES & Op3Mech welcome new PhD student Michael Hillen who will be working on the topic: Depth-selective chemical imaging of Cultural Heritage Objects (DICHO).

February 2020: ARCHES welcomes new ZAP member prof. Tim De Kock

January 2020: AXES & ARCHES perform MA-XRPD imaging on Rembrandt's Nightwatch in the Rijksmuseum.

January 2020: ARCHES at the ESRF workshop on Cultural heritage

December 2019: Vincent Cattersel succesfully defended his PhD thesis.