Research team


The aim of my research career has always been to advance the understanding of history, composition and reactivity of cultural heritage materials through the application of advanced analytical techniques. To reach this goal, I developed an expertise in method development and optimization for the analysis of cultural heritage objects. This includes experimental design, optimization of sample preparation and application of a diverse set of methods for material analysis, including both in-situ and laboratory analysis (also at synchrotron facilities). I have direct experience with the development and application of multi-analytical methodologies to study different types of historical materials, including metal alloys, glass, paintings, artists’ pigments, lacquer coatings, textiles and leather. This diverse experience gives me the necessary background knowledge and practical expertise to design and implement multianalytical approaches, finetuned to answer the most diverse research questions. I am currently applying my expertise to the study of complex composite objects (combination of multiple materials), in particular historical carriages and sledges, with a focus on the reactivity and interaction between materials.

Belgian Carriage Interior Research Project. The scientific analyses of historical materials and techniques and historical interiors of Hippomobile heritage in de collection of KMKG-MRAH (BELCAIRE). 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2031


The KMKG-MRAH holds an exceptional collection of about eighty carriages and sledges dating from the late 17th century until the early 20th century, including 11 coaches on loan from the Belgian Royal House. Although these objects accurately reflect the historical innovations in technology and material science of their era, hippomobile heritage remains an understudied field in heritage science. In recent years, a preliminary damage assessment of the KMKG-MRAH collection highlighted the exceptional original state of the objects, but in parallel raised concern for the poor material condition, especially of the interiors that include upholstery, shades, cushions, passementary and trimmings. As a result of the poor condition of some of these interiors, conservation students and staff of UAntwerp conducted a preliminary collection audit in 2019. This survey highlighted the complexity of preserving these mixed-material interiors, bringing instable inorganic materials (e.g., corroding metal) in close contact with sensitive organic materials such as (oiled) textile fibres, leather and early synthetic materials. As such, the goal of BELCAIRE is to develop a model for long-term preservation strategy not only targeting the KMKG-MRAH collection but applicable to all hippomobile heritage dispersed over various European museums, institutions and private collections. We therefore propose first gaining insight into the largely unknown innovative materials and craftmanship employed for the manufacture of carriages by combining the study of historical sources (patents and manuals) with a careful optical inspection and chemo-physical characterization of a selection of carriages. In the first phase/two years, BELCAIRE focuses on four case studies which are representative for various social classes: royalty (case 1: inv. nr. TR 49), nobility (case 2: inv. nr. TR 76), bourgeoisie (case 3: inv. nr. TR 4) and public transport (case 4: inv. nr. TR 69). In later years enlarging this corpus will allow finetuning and benchmarking the obtained insights. After this material study ongoing degradation phenomena are identified and listed whereas their mechanisms and urgency are further assessed through the production and artificial ageing of mock-ups. In particular, historical materials are reproduced according to recipes and exposed to various environmental conditions to quantify their individual and combined impact on the degradation mechanisms. Based on the obtained insights, a generic risk assessment model is drawn up for hippomobile heritage, guiding curators and conservators in their decision-making processes for active and passive conservation. Finally, an elaborate dissemination plan, linking with the HOME-AGE project (FED-tWIN project PRF-2020-011 granted in the previous round), targets an efficient flow to and interaction with scholars, students and the general public. In this way, BELCAIRE aims to close the knowledge gap on the conservation and preservation of hippomobile heritage and contributes to the understanding of cumulative damage caused by mixed materials and techniques in carriage interiors in particular.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project