PhD Position in Conservation Science

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you looking for a challenging position in a dynamic setting? The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the Protrusion Project, led by principal investigator dr. Joen Hermans. This project falls within a larger research line aiming for an improved understanding of the mechanisms of change in oil paintings. The AHM is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR). The position is embedded in the Programme Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage.

The Programme Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage hosts the only academic conservation training programme in the Netherlands. It is affiliated to the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS), and shares it conservation and research laboratories with the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

What are you going to do?

The Protrusion Project focuses on an important alteration phenomenon that affects a large fraction of the world’s oil paintings: the formation of metal soap protrusions. Despite decades of research on this phenomenon, the mechanisms and conditions that trigger protrusion formation have proven rather difficult to resolve. To gain understanding of the ways in which paint composition, environmental conditions or conservation treatments affect the formation of metal soap protrusions, and to help conservators to mitigate or prevent the problem of their formation, the ability to replicate protrusion growth under controlled conditions is crucial.

Your challenge will be to become the first to successfully grow metal soap protrusions in oil paint in a short time span. This task will involve careful study of oil paintings, investigation of (historical) literature, systematic thinking about chemical mechanisms, creative paint reconstruction design and detailed analysis of paint samples. You will be supported by experts on paintings conservation, historical painting practice and oil paint chemistry, and will have access to lab facilities and a broad range of analytical tools.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment. This thesis is based on 3-4 peer-reviewed articles that have been submitted for publication;
  • carrying out independent research, including literature research, reconstruction design, making and monitoring, and data analysis;
  • presenting intermediate research results at meetings and conferences;
  • assist with teaching master’s level courses in the 2nd and 3rd year of the PhD (max. 0.2 FTE)
  • participation in the Research School and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • (Co-)teaching courses at the BA-level in the 2nd and 3rd year of the appointment (max. 0,2FTE per year).

What do you have to offer?

You are a motivated researcher, who enjoys diving into different research fields ranging from art history to conservation practice to chemistry to answer complex material questions. You have the ability to find creative solutions for both practical and theoretical problems. You thrive when working in diverse environments, take initiative and communicate clearly about technical topics.

Your experience and profile:

Candidates need to have the following qualifications:

  • a completed Master's degree in Conservation Science, Paintings Conservation, Chemistry, or an equivalent degree. You may apply if you have not yet completed your Master's degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 01 September 2024;
  • excellent research skills demonstrated by an outstanding Master's thesis and a demonstrable capacity to develop a track record of publishing in high-ranking journals;
  • a proven capacity to independently set up experiments exploring material properties (preferably related to art conservation).
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • enthusiasm and skills for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences;
  • excellent command of English in speech and writing.

This interdisciplinary position could be fulfilled by either a candidate with a degree in Conservation Science, a degree in Conservation and strong affinity with chemistry, or a degree in Chemistry with a strong affinity with art. Experience with oil paint, preparation of paint reconstructions, or technical analysis of paint materials is considered a plus.

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

What can we offer you?

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is 01 September 2024.

Your salary, depending on relevant experience on commencement of the employment contract, ranges from € 2,770 up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. Favourable tax agreements may apply to applicants moving from abroad. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer?

  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an inspiring academic and international work environment in the heart of Amsterdam;
  • an enthusiastic and professional academic team.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 42,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


If you have any questions about the position or the department, please contact during office hours:

  • Assistant Professor Conservation Science: Joen Hermans
  • [email protected]
  • +31 (0)6 42295489

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. We will accept applications until 29 April 2024.

Your application should include the following information:

  • a letter of motivation (max. 1 A4);
  • a full academic CV, listing at least full address and contact details, previous education, relevant employment, conference presentations and publications (if applicable), grants/honours (if applicable), language proficiency;
  • a list of all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades;
  • the names and email addresses of two references who may be approached by the selection committee.

Please submit the required information in 1 pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’.

The first round of interviews will be held in the course of May. A second round which may include a prepared assignment will be held if necessary.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

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