A materials reference collection, begun in the early 1960ies is a repository of reference samples for use in the comparative analysis of art objects. We must seize the opportunities and challenges of providing broader access to such information as part of the growing online accessibility of museum collections.


Lead by

Kim Brasen, Mag.Art in Art History


Abildgaard handwritten reference


Description of work

The collection includes tubes of paint and the multitudinous raw materials historically used for paint manufacture and employed in pictorial art.

Since its humble beginning, the collection has grown to more than several thousand samples. Housed today as separate collections in the three partner institutions, it has exceptional potential as a support for the research and service functions of the CATS consortium and associated partners, the conservation laboratories of the National Gallery of Denmark, the National Museum of Denmark and the School of Conservation, as well as the international conservation community.

In order to fully exploit and benefit from the valuable resources of the sample collection, it must be catalogued digitally to allow advanced searching. A vast amount of documentation is continuously being generated by the scientific staff and conservators at the partner institutions, and it is our aim to assemble, organise and upload the data in a database for historical, scientific and technical information. This will be available from terminals located in the CATS documentation centre.



The objective of the project is to develop a shared infrastructure for researchers in art history, conservation, conservation science and related professions. The aim is to create a structure where technical research on certain artists, schools and periods etc. can be accumulated and organized to form a basis of searchable knowledge for collaboration and discussion and to benefit researchers from National Gallery of Denmark as well as external colleagues.


Task 1

Photo of account book that belonged to the Danish artist Nikolaj AbildgaardAn active partnership with the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the leader in the development of an open-source documentary tool named ConservationSpace, will engage conservators, conservation scientists and institutional decision makers in a number of policy issues related to the

Task 2

Input and digitalization of technical documentation of Golden Age paintings in a Shared Infrastructure, first with the National Museum and School of Conservation, and ultimately for all researchers and interested stakeholders.

Task 3

Web-based resource system to be built and placed in a shared infrastructure (first among CATS partners – but eventually with the international conservation/museum community).



• Design and construction of database: Each sample is given a record with information ranging from chemical / physical composition to source, manufacturer, geographic origin and possible analytical data from analyses performed on the sample and / or from a relation to a given work of art

• The development of a software tool that is to form the basis of the shared infrastructure will aim at creating a user-friendly platform containing a number of tools and functions for easy comparison and referencing of images, analytical results, communication with colleagues and other professionals,  up- and downloading of contributions from and to other institutions, etc.

• Implementation of the CATS Reference Collection which should be launched within the first four years of the CATS activity plan