A visit to the Netherlands for collaborative research with NICAS


Six academic members of the Center of Innovation (COI) site in the Public Collaboration Center at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) visited the Netherlands between June 28 and July 5, 2016, with the aim of advancing collaborative research on art reproduction with the Netherlands Institute for Conservation Art and Science (NICAS) based on the partnership agreement signed by the two organizations back in February.

Currently, TUA’s COI site is working on a project to reproduce two paintings (“The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel and “Flowers in a Blue Vase” by Vincent van Gogh) in collaboration with NICAS, using cutting-edge technology and traditional art techniques. Having been notified that one of the NICAS members, Prof. Joris Dik of Delft University of Technology, was going to conduct an XRF mapping analysis for “The Tower of Babel” in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at the end of June, the COI members planned accordingly to visit the museum at this time. In the museum, the group from TUA listened to the results of the XRF analysis reported by Prof. Dik, and discussed details with the partners of this project. Then, they took photographs of the original painting, including its sides and edges, in order to achieve accurate reproduction, and checked the colors of the reproduction samples that the TUA members brought by making a comparison with the original. Ultimately, the COI site intends to make a reproduction of “The Tower of Babel” in an enlarged size, with the texture identical to the original painting. The reproduction will be displayed at the exhibition organized by the Asahi Shimbun, Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Bruegel’s “The Tower of Babel” and Great 16th Century Masters, to be held in Japan in spring 2017. More information about the exhibition can be found at the following link:

report078-01Discussing the results of the reproduction samples

report078-02Photographing the side of the original painting

※Pieter Bruegel (I)
Brueghel c. 1526/1530 – Brussels 1569
The Tower of Babel, c. 1568
Oil on panel

On the following day, the TUA members visited the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) to meet again with Prof. Dik. After observing the 3D-measuring and 3D-printing technologies developed by the university and sharing opinions, the members from TUA showed the reproduction samples of “Flowers in a Blue Vase” that the COI team produced, using the data from the 3D-measuring and chemical composition analysis provided by Prof. Dik. They received very positive feedback on the texture and color tones. Then, the TUA members and Prof. Dik discussed details of their collaborative project, such as the process and schedule, and confirmed that they would continue to work together in carrying out various collaborative projects concurrently to reproduce artworks owned by Dutch cultural institutions.

report078-03Prof. Dik observing one of the reproduction samples prepared by TUA’s COI site

Furthermore, the TUA members visited the conservation studio of the Rijksmuseum (at which NICAS is headquartered), where they were greeted by its staff. They also explored paints and materials sold in the Netherlands, some of which they purchased and brought home, and went to see the paintings for their next reproduction projects with NICAS. All of these made the trip very productive.

Hopefully, we will see more of the innovative projects carried out in collaboration between Tokyo University of the Arts and NICAS in the future, as illustrated by the scheduled exhibition on the collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.