The National Museum, Oslo.
Photo: The National Museum / Børre Høstland

Conference at the National Museum in Oslo, on the 23–24 of November 2023

About the Conference

The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Norway is pleased to announce the conference: Bridging the gap – synergies between art history and conservation. The conference will be organised in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, the University of Oslo and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and will be followed by a peer-reviewed publication. The two-day conference will be held at the new National Museum in Oslo on the 23–24 of November 2023.  

Bridging the gap – synergies between art history and conservation aims to bring forth new research in conservation and conservation science by highlighting the benefits of multidisciplinarity. The scientific committee invites conservators, art historians, educators and heritage scientists alike to present research from collaborative projects that aid our understanding, interpretation and dissemination of art, architecture and design. We envision a three-session program. 

Session 1: Conservation narratives and practices

Painting conservator student Erling Sigvart Skaug at work on St. Nikolas from Eidsborg church, 1963.
Photo: Courtesy of the Norwegian Labour Movement Archives and Library.

Without doubt the conservation history of an object, or collection as well as varied traditions in conservation approach, are of importance. But, to what extent and in what way have these past practices influenced the visual appearance of works of art today?  

This session will feature talks on subjects such as: the evolution of conservation practices - conservation histories - art historical context and interpretation - exhibition history and dissemination. Presentations that highlight the dilemmas and decision-making in a cross-disciplinary field are welcome. 

Session 2: Material practices, reconstructions and archival research

Artist Ida Ekblad (1980-) applied paint with an unusual tool for an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2013.
Photo: Børre Høstland, the National Museum.

Material choices of the artist are important for art historical interpretation, mediation, conservation treatments and preservation strategies. Also, discussions on artistic actions in the historic context of time and place can bring new perspectives to the dissemination of art.  

This session will feature papers on subjects like material practices – the active agency of artistic practices and choices – the historic context of production companies and material brands - the underlying agency of industry and raw materials. Contributions using historical sources, archival and contextual research in dialogue with the original artworks are welcome. 

Session 3: Material changes

Detail from «L’envol», 1961 by Pierre Alechinsky showing white efflorescence/fatty acid crystals covering dark green oil paint
Photo: Børre Høstland, the National Museum.

When looking at an artwork, conservators, educators and art historians attempt to understand the gap between the artwork when first completed and how it looks now, in a changed state. How great is the disparity between the past and the present? What is the impact for our understanding of the artwork and when is this relevant for how we disseminate it to the audience?  

This session will feature papers on challenges both for the dissemination of artworks, and the examination of material changes often considered as ‘decay’. Artistic intention and accepted appearance are in themselves difficult concepts, but important to include in the discussion. 

All papers must be original work, as the post prints will be peer-reviewed. Invited speakers will be, based on submitted abstracts, asked to give a 20-minute presentation. The language of the conference and subsequent publication will be English. 

Abstract template is linked here. Maximum 750 words for papers and 250 for posters. From June 2023 this page will include registration details and the conference program. 


The event will be streamed, but not recorded. All authors (papers+posters) must attend in person. Each abstract will be evaluated by at least three members of the scientific committee.  

Scientific committee:

  • Professor Dr. Klaas Jan van den Berg, conservation science/scientist, University of Amsterdam/Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Dr. Ida Antonia Tank Bronken, senior paintings conservator, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Dr. Thierry-Olivier Ford, senior paintings conservator, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Professor Dr. Tine Frøysaker, conservation, University of Oslo. 
  • Dr. Wim Genuit, guest researcher/scientist, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Mai Britt Guleng, senior curator old masters and modern art, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Anna-Carin Hedberg, curator education, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Professor Dr. Ella Hendriks, conservation, University of Amsterdam. 
  • Professor Dr. Erma Hermens, technical art history, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.
  • Marie Kleivane, paper conservator, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Anja Sandtrø, conservator of contemporary art, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Dr. Birgitte Sauge, senior curator architecture, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Lin Stafne-Pfisterer, curator education, the National Museum, Oslo.
  • Professor Dr. Noëlle Streeton, conservation, University of Oslo.
  • Dr. Wenche Volle, senior curator modern and contemporary art, the National Museum. 

The committee might be extended, depending on the submitted abstracts.

Important dates

15 April 2023: Deadline for abstracts for papers and posters.  

June 2023: Selected authors for papers are invited.  

1 July 2023: Invited posters will be notified.  

10 November 2023: Deadline for transfer of the PowerPoints for talks and print files for posters to the conference email. 

4 January 2024: Deadline for submission of papers. 

The post-print will be peer-reviewed and available in 2024. The date is still to be confirmed.