NICAS Research Associates

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

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 by drafting a so-called Road Map. 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.

Applications are invited for

The Andrew W. Mellon Program ‘An International Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’

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

Please note that the projects are not about defining a specific research subject, but about gaining insight and understanding of the field as a whole and identifying opportunities and challenges towards improving international collaboration in the field of heritage science within the given object/material categories.

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 May 2021 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.


  • The funding by The Andrew W. Mellon Program ‘An International Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’ supports candidates with either a finished MA or MSc degree or a finished PhD 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.


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 May 2021. 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.

Application and procedure

Applications should include

  • An up-to-date CV;
  • A recent piece of academic writing (essay/thesis/etc.);
  • A motivational letter that includes a personal reflection on the way in which the candidate feels the research field should develop.

Complete applications have to be submitted through our online application system. Please follow the link below to learn about the required documents for application.

Apply here

The Rijksmuseum is committed to actively promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. We therefore encourage all potential candidates to apply.

The closing date for all applications is Wednesday November 11th at 6:00 p.m. (Amsterdam time/CET), but candidates are encouraged to apply at their earliest convenience. No applications will be accepted after the deadline. All applications must be submitted online and in English. Applications or related materials delivered via email, postal mail, or in person will not be accepted.

Selection will be made by an international committee in December 2020. The committee consists of eminent scholars in the relevant fields of study from universities and institutions worldwide. Applicants will be notified by 15 January 2021 at the latest. All Research Associates will start in May 2021.

Further information

For questions concerning the Andrew W. Mellon Program ‘An International Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science’, contact Benjamin Rous, project coordinator, or Karin Lieftink, project assistant at or +31 (0)20-6747360. For questions concerning the application procedure please contact Lieke Boers, HR advisor on +31 (0) 20 – 674 7304

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