A five-day course


In association with TEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS) is pleased to announce the Science for Art Dealers course, scheduled for 18-22 November 2019. In recent years the possibilities of using scientific techniques for evaluating the authenticity, date or condition of art objects have increased immeasurably. At a time when forgery scandals are making sensational headlines, serious collectors will demand more and more of art dealers’ expertise – not only on art history, but also on the material history of an object.


This five-day course is designed specifically for art dealers. It provides participants with a great opportunity to learn about:

  • the possibilities and limitations of science when applied to object-based research;
  • the state of the art of a range of scientific techniques that can help in answering questions about dating, condition, materials and manufacturing processes for several types of objects;
  • what to focus on when trying to uncover the history of the materials in an object;
  • the type of questions to ask conservators or other researchers who have expertise that is different from your own.

The course will consist of lectures, demonstrations and hands-on practical sessions taught by experts in art history, conservation and science. Some activities will be plenary, while others will be planned as workshops, for which dealers may register in line with their specific area of interest. Fifty percent of the focus will be on paintings, and fifty percent will be concerned with other disciplines.

No prior knowledge of science is necessary. The course will take place in the Ateliergebouw, Amsterdam which is the hub of NICAS and houses state-of-the-art facilities for the conservation and scientific examination of cultural heritage objects.


Course fee

Participation in this course costs €3,500 incl. VAT. The course fee includes professional lectures, practical sessions, a literature syllabus, daily refreshments and lunch, one dinner and free access to the Rijksmuseum during this week.

Maximum number of participants

The course will be in English and is designed for 10-25 participants. If the course is oversubscribed, allocation will be made on a first come, first served basis.


For the science for art dealers course we invite you to bring one interesting object from your own collection, for which we ask you to send information in advance. This information will be screened by our scientists before you come, to see if it is suitable to be covered in the curriculum of the course. On the first day we will focus on research methodology and characterising the problems surrounding your objects – what scientific techniques can help answer your questions?

A number of diverse techniques that are used in art research will be discussed, including:

Imaging techniques

  • Visual photography
  • Infrared radiation photography/infrared radiation reflectography
  • UV induced fluorescence
  • X-radiography

Dating techniques

  • Dendrochronology
  • Thermoluminescence testing
  • Multi-isotopic analysis
  • Carbon dating

Material analysis

  • HIROX microscopy
  • X-ray fluorescence: XRF/Portable XRF/Macro XRF
  • X-ray diffraction
  • Scanning electron microscope/Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX)
  • High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
  • Laser Raman Spectroscopy

Based on the type and number of objects brought in, the various scientific techniques will be more or less useful and more or less discussed accordingly. You will receive a syllabus that explains all techniques mentioned above, their possibilities and their limitations, and a collection of articles with case studies.

The focus will be on paintings, yet other disciplines are equally addressed, though many of the techniques used for paintings have wider applicability.



For more information, please contact Rosa Hoogenboom, assistant of NICAS, via

Read about this event here