Current projects

Arts and Heritage in the Making

Key research themes: dynamic heritage; contested heritage; stakeholders; multi-level perspectives; local/global 


The Biography of the Meuse
On 17 and 18 January 2019, 40 scholars, professionals and general audience members discussed ways of researching the Biography of the Meuse. During a series of truly interdisciplinary conversations, ecologists, heritage researchers and engineers spoke of issues such as river politics, rewilding, beavers and meandering. While the focus was the Meuse in Limburg, river stories were told from regions across the globe. The success of this expert meeting will be carried on in a research consortium that is currently being formed. 
The two-day expert meeting was made up by academics from the universities of Maastricht, Leiden, Utrecht, Wageningen as well as by their international colleagues from universities in Liege, Aarhus, North-Texas, St. Louis and Venice and also by representatives from organisations such as the Dutch cultural heritage agency (RCE), Rijkswaterstaat, Natuurmonumenten, Deltares, Limburgs Museum, Limburgs Landschap, Waterschap Limburg, Provincie Limburg, Royal Limburger Archaeological and Historical Society, the Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, the Sociaal Historisch Centrum Limburg and Centre Ceramique. 
Key discussion themes in relation to the Biography of the Meuse were for example the political networks of the Meuse, the everyday life of the river, the human-made eco systems of the Meuse and the Meuse as habitat. In addition, the participants were interested in more methodological issues as the role of citizen scientists and embodied forms of river research. A potential central question that rose during the two days was perhaps how we can learn from the longue duree of the river to deal with its future uncertainties? UM’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and MACCH will take the initiative in giving shape a research consortium dealing with this and other relevant questions.
Project leaders: Nico Randeraad and Christiaan Ernsten

Better than Gold: Art in Storage and the Making of Financial Value
This interdisciplinary research project studies new types art-storage-spaces and their implications for global relations between art and finance. Today, artworks are increasingly insured, collateralized, and securitized in and through storage. This affects public and private practices of ownership and display, speculation and risk, as well as (self-)regulation and taxation.
Researching how art is currently financialized in and through new types of storage, this interdisciplinary project is the first to analyze the far-reaching implications of such emergent art-storage-spaces. Doing multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork at and around art-storage-spaces, the project studies by means of participant observation and qualitative interviewing the contested technologies, politics, and ethics of art-storage and art-financialization practices.
Project leader: Christoph Rausch

Curating Europe's Changing Nature
This study concerns the River Meuse and Mount Saint Peter as they are emerging as new nature reserves in Europe. The River Meuse and Mount Saint Peter figure prominently in the history of the City of Maastricht and the Limburg region in general. They constitute hybrid landscapes that present complex patchworks of land use, including nature reserves, archaeological sites, urban edges, industrial complexes, agricultural lands and leisure zones. Currently large-scale projects of nature engineering are underway, altering these landscapes fundamentally. These transitions present a key archive to analyze the shifts, transformations and internal workings of the discourses of heritage and nature development. Moreover, the reconfiguration of the river and the hill as new nature reserves are exemplary in a European context of post-industrial transformation, rapid urban growth and anthropogenic climate change. One of the central concerns of this study is therefore the examination of the different regimes of care surrounding the conservation of the new co-existence of animals, plants, humans and technologies. As such, it is responding to the urgent need for the articulating an integrative framework to cultural heritage and natural heritage in Europe in general, and in relation to the new Dutch Environmental Management Act (to be implemented from 2021) specifically. 
The study is currently in development and involves collaborations with local museums, historical and archaeological societies as well as natural heritage organizations in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. The analysis of this project will be the result of a multi-stranded research methodology. Alongside archival research and interviews, this will include an ethnographic study of locally situated practices as well as walking as an embodied research methodology. 
Project leader: Christian Ernsten

Valorising Arts and Heritage

Key research themes: values; authenticity; ownership; global art market


Collaborative PhD project with Tate
In October 2018, Dirk van de Leemput started his collaborative PhD project with Tate, London. Since the 1960s artists have been using a range of media technologies to create art. These artworks are dependent on these technologies and their associated networks of people, materials and skills, not only for their production but also for their on-going display and access. The research will consider manifestations of the precarity or persistence of the technological networks and their associated consequences for the conservation of these artworks.
The traditional museum model, based on collection knowledge and conservation capacities that is held within the museum, is challenged. Instead, the contemporary art museum is increasingly dependent on socio-material networks outside the museum which are beyond the museum's direct control and which circulate in alternative economies, often dominated by different commercial concerns. The museum needs better understanding of these networks to inform and build upon methodologies such as risk assessment and other tools for imagining the future viability of particular works in contemporary art collections. Dirk will study from the collection of Tate three artworks that build upon diverse technologies such as 16mm film, CRT’s and programming language.
The PhD research is part of ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Museums Live in the Museum’, a three-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by Pip Laurenson, Head of Collection Care at Tate, and Professor Art, Collection and Care at Maastricht University.

Languageculture in Limburg
The construction of local identities through language cultural practices; processes of place-making, globalisation in the margin, code-switching, bidialectal child acquisition; multilingualism. 
Project leaderProf. Leonie Cornips (FASoS)
In collaboration with Dr. Vincent de Rooij (UvA) and Dr. Irene Stengs (Meertens Institute) 
Researchers FASoS:
- Kristel Peters
- Jolien Clijsen
- Kirsten van den Heij, MA
- Dr. Charles van Leeuwen
Societal partners:
Digital Library of Dutch Literature
Limburgs Museum
Huis voor de Kunsten
- Cultuuradvies Art Dujour

Speaking Cité Duits in a coalminers’ neighborhood: The construction and reproduction of social identities through language practices
The coalminers’ district of Tuinwijk in Eisden (B) displays a particular example of a culturally and linguistically heterogeneous neighborhood in an isolated area of Limburg, where people of more than fourteen nationalities and speakers of numerous languages started living together at the beginning of the 20th century. The children of the coalminers, born locally in the 1930s, created a way of speaking at a young age, which they themselves label Cité Duits. This unique way of speaking has hardly been investigated: Initial findings based on audio recordings of five male speakers suggest that we are dealing with a German-Dutch-Limburgian-dialect way of speaking. It shows several linguistic features, however, that occur in none of the three varieties (cf. Auer & Cornips 2014; Cornips & Auer 2014).
The project, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), will examine how language practices are employed to construct and reproduce social identities among speakers of the former coalminers’ community of Tuinwijk (also called the Cité). The aim is to develop an informed and detailed description and linguistic analysis of Cité Duits, as well as an interpretation of its use by former miners and (possibly) their sisters and wives in Eisden, and of former miners who have emigrated in the 1960s to the U.S. (Santa Rosa Valley, California) and have been exposed to a further contact language, i.e. English.
The coalmine in Eisden was built between 1907 and 1939 together with six other coalmines, but soon counted the highest number of non-Belgian workers who immigrated from various European countries. A multilingual, but socially isolated community surged, where little interaction with the Belgian inhabitants from the town took place (cf. Ganzelewski & Slotta 1999: 94f.; Delbroek 2008; Kohlbacher 2013: 4f.). Since women were excluded from mining work, the whole public area remained male-dominated (cf. Stuyck et al. 2008: 73f.). The emergence of the Cité shows that effects of globalization such as large-scale mobility are not only perceivable in central areas but also in peripheral places (cf. Wang et al. 2014: 24).
The language practices of the speakers of the community will be investigated by applying a set of three methods: (a) sociolinguistic fieldwork by conducting in-group recordings with (i) two groups of four well-acquainted former coalminers, one group that still lives in Eisden, and one group that moved to Santa Rosa Valley, California, U.S. and (ii) one group of four well-acquainted women living in Eisden (in-group settings), (b) ethnographic fieldwork, and (c) analysis of collected archive files. The combined societal and linguistic relevance of the project will help to enhance our understanding of how language use in processes of social (dis)identification works. Furthermore, the project will lead to a more nuanced view of the linguistic effects of migration and mobility and make a new contribution to the dynamics of language contact among speakers from a socially and geographically isolated area in Limburg.
PhD researcher: Nantke Pecht MA (FASoS)
Supervisors: Prof. Leonie Cornips (FASoS) & Prof. Peter Auer (University of Freiburg) 

A New Baroque Organ for the 21st Century
This project aims to research and document the building of a new baroque organ at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. This concert venue in Amsterdam, founded in 2007, has an extensive collection of instruments, including a replica of a medieval organ and three Romantic organs. The new baroque organ that is to be built will be more than just an ordinary baroque organ. The main research question is how the process of building the instrument can be used as an innovative way to study performance and composition practices, listening practices, and organ building practices. The primary interest lies in how the organ can be used in relation to both contemporary and historically oriented ways of making music. The research focuses specifically on how knowledge, techniques and craftsmanship are developed in the practice of building a new baroque organ. The construction of the baroque organ dovetails with the international trend of research organs. These instruments of knowledge create experimental situations: they can be ‘read’ and queried with regard to a diverse range of questions. The baroque organ project thus hopes to contribute to an exchange of insights between fields such as new musicology, science and technology studies, sound studies, and artistic research.
The Baroque Organ project is funded by the Utopa Foundation in Leiden.
Project leader: Dr. Peter Peters (FASoS)
Societal partners:
Organ Park, Amsterdam
Utopa Foundation, Leiden

Finding Photography
Project leader(s)Prof. P. Laurenson (Tate/FASoS)

Chemical imaging of paint cross sections samples from the Gilt Leather ensemble from Maastricht City HallProject leader(s): Shane R. Ellis (M4i) 
Researchers MACCHR. Hoppenbrouwers, K. Seymour (SRAL)

Cataloguing, digitizing, and researching the archives of stained glass workshop Nicolas & Sons (Roermond)
Project leader(s): Prof. dr. Ad Knotter (SHCL)

Indian Conservation Fellowship Program (2017-2021)
Project leader(s)R. Hoppenbrouwers

Participation and Presentation

Key research themes: user practices; digital heritage; public-awareness building; distributed responsibility; transmedia storytelling


Interreg EMR

Terra Mosana
MACCH contributes to Terra Mosana, a euregional project aiming to investigate, digitalize and present the shared history of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. Over the course of three years (2018-2021), various cities and regions, museums and universities will jointly develop digital narratives through 3D modeling and on-site augmented reality connecting cultural heritage sites in Aachen, Jülich, Leopoldsburg, Liège, Maastricht, and Tongeren.

MACCH is responsible for the Workpackage on Sustainability coordinated by Dr. V. van Saaze. MACCH affiliated researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University investigate the language development of the Euregio (Prof. L. Cornips), legal frameworks of cross-border cooperation in the field of digital heritage (Dr. A. Moerland and Prof. Kamperman Sanders), and contribute expertise towards responsible citizen participation in the creation of digital narratives (Prof. S. Wyatt, Dr. E. Nofal, Dr. C. Papadopoulus). In collaboration with ITEM, the possibilities for a euregionaal Culture Card are being explored (Prof. H. Schneider, A. de Jong, MA).

Terra Mosana is an initiative of the University of Liège and was launched at the Palace of the Prince-Bishops of Liège on 24 October 2018. The Terra Mosana project, is being executed within the context of Interreg V-A Euregion MeuseRhine, and is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the Walloon Region, the Provinces of Limburg (NL and B) and the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. Total budget: €4,607,364.46.

Archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment
In late 2016, a new COST Action started, focusing on how archaeological practices are affected by ever-increasing digitalization. MACCH affiliated researcher Professor Sally Wyatt is one of the Dutch members of the Management Team.
As nations and the EU are making considerable investments in technologies, infrastructures and standards for all aspects of working with archaeological knowledge, critical understanding of how this knowledge is produced and used remains fragmentary. This COST action will overcome this fragmentation by forming a transdisciplinary network that brings together the knowledge from individual research projects, national initiatives and EU projects (e.g. CARARE, LoCloud, Europeana Cloud, ARIADNE, DARIAH) in the field of archaeological knowledge production and use. The proposed work is an acute priority and prerequisite for ensuring the expected benefits of the large-scale investments in the cultural heritage sector.
The better coordination of current fragmented efforts to study archaeological practices, knowledge production and use, social impact and industrial potential of archaeological knowledge will 1) strengthen and consolidate the current state of the art, as represented in leading research in the field, on the making and emergence of archaeological knowledge and its application for societal benefit, and 2) provide a basis for guidance to diverse stakeholders responsible for making, regulating, preserving, managing and using archaeological knowledge including field archaeologists, museum professionals, heritage administrators, researchers, policymakers, cultural industry and the public.

Open Scholarship & Open Cultural Heritage
World Universities Network (WUN) funds a one-year project promoting open scholarship and open cultural heritage. The aim is to produce a White Paper for use by WUN members addressing issues such as open access and alternative publication models for cultural heritage, open cultural heritage education, open scholarship and visualization, and the privacy and ethical issues surrounding open access. MACCH affiliated researcher Professor Sally Wyatt is one of the partners in the project.
The research project ‘Open WUN’, led by Professor Graeme Earl of the University of Southampton, has recently received seed funding from the Research Development Fund of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). Other partners are from New Zealand, the US, Ghana, South Africa, China & Japan. All aspects of openness – data, software, publications – will be addressed.
The project developed research partnerships focused on open scholarship, with a particular emphasis on digital cultural heritage. A week-long workshop was held in Japan, drawing together experts from across the open scholarship spectrum (open data, open tools, open publication and open education) to develop new research funding applications, scoping of open scholarship within WUN, and production of a pilot demonstrating the research potential for integrating open scholarship activities within the WUN community. The potential of open scholarship in the context of cultural heritage will serve as a consistent theme, and WUN contributions include global experts on digital cultural heritage. A follow-up meeting will be held in Southampton in the autumn.
The Worldwide Universities Network is a leading global higher education and research network made up of 21 universities, spanning 11 countries on five continents. It aims to drive international research collaboration and address issues of global significance.

Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences
>> More information
Project leader: Dr. Peter Peters (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

Art Market, Law and Policy

Key research themes: protection; restitution; return and trade of cultural objects; provenance research; authenticity and authentification; global art market


Feeling Art: Crafting Intellectual Property Law to Enhance Disability Access to Artistic Works through 3D Printing Technology
3D printing now permits people with visual impairments (PVI) to experience 3D reproductions of paintings and photographs through touch. A few institutions have undertaken projects facilitating this, thus granting PVI an equal opportunity to experience visual art, and enhancing their human rights to participate in the cultural life of the community and enjoy the arts.
However, 3D reproductions may infringe copyright. Many copyright systems include certain exceptions to infringement that facilitate access to copyright works by PVI, but laws tend to focus on access to literary works; the application of disability exceptions to visual art is unclear. It is also often obscure whether current laws are technology-neutral, and able to encompass contemporary digital practices within the scope of exceptions to infringement. The lack, inadequacy, or uncertainty of exceptions to infringement of copyright may hamper sensory art projects and reduce inclusivity and equity in cultural engagement by PVI.
This workshop undertakes to map disability exceptions worldwide, and to reach an understanding of the status quo from the point of view of copyright law, disability law and art law, with the future goal of recommending a harmonisation of the topic under public international law, considering all the interests concerned (artists, PVI, museums).
Outcomes: inventory of problems found and of funding opportunities for further research; planning of a network; draft guidelines for future policy recommendations on international harmonisation (to be disseminated online).
Project leader: Ana Ramalho (Faculty of Law)
Researchers and/or research partners: Ana Ramalho, Hildegard Schneider, Lisa Waddington, Jure Vidmar (UM Faculty of Law); Jani McCutcheon (University of Western Australia)
Societal partners: Van Gogh Museum; European Blind Union
Business partners3D Maastricht
Project funded by: Faculty of Law; SWOL

Legal Proceedings Marei von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art (2015-)
Expert witness and advisor of defense team representing the Norton Simon Museum of Art. The project covers, among other things, research into the Dutch post-war restitutions and restoration of rights process regarding artworks looted during the Second World War.
Project leader: Lars van Vliet (Faculty of Law)
Societal partner: Norton Simon Museum of Art
Business partner: Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP

Expert Opinion and Reputation in Art Markets
In this project we study asymmetric information in art markets. How expert opinion manifests itself in the price of artworks auctioned. In particular we focus on the major collectors and dealers from the 18th and 19th century, and how they were able to influence art markets. Using empirical data from 1767-1911 from London art auction markets we observe the strategy of expert collectors and dealers in the London art market. This data approach is highly innovative in nature and new techniques are used to construct a database of over 30,000 entries of art auction sales data for this period. A number of important characteristics are also collected. These variables help determine the price of the works of art sold at auction. The major dealers of the time, prominent in the 18th century are analysed and their strategy.  Collection values are also studied.
The project uses innovative research methods and requires an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including historians, psychologists and social scientists.  The aim of the project is to help understand expert opinion and how asymmetric information influences behaviour in art markets.
Project Leader: Prof. dr. Rachel Pownall (School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University)
Other UM researchers: Dr. Marina Gertsberg (School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University)
Sotheby's Institute of Art
Sotheby's Auction House

Feasibility Study on Regional Museum Cooperation and Regional Museum Pass
The idea of a cross border museum pass in the region Maas Rhine/Rhine Maas North is based on the example set by the Association of Museums-PASS-Musées (formerly the Upper Rhine Museum Pass). This association was founded in December 1998. The members of this association are either from Germany, France or Switzerland. From the very beginning onwards this initiative had more than 120 participating museums as members of the Upper Rhine Pass. In 2015 this initiative has more than 320 museums, castles and gardens as members of the association in the three countries and the geographic dimension of the project has increased enormously increased. Furthermore, this initiative has become financially fully independent. This study runs in cooperation with ITEM, Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility.
>> Download the flyer.
Project leaderHildegard Schneider (Faculty of Law) 

Workshop on Law & Art - Annual Activity
At the annual Ius Commune Conference, a workshop on law & art is presented.
Researchers: Hildegard Schneider, Lars van Vliet (Faculty of Law)

Artistic Research

Key research themes: public space, artistic practices, thinking-by-making, different ways of knowing


MERIAN (Maastricht Experimental Research In and Through the Arts Network) is a network collaboration in the area of artistic research between Zuyd Hogeschool, Maastricht University, and the Jan van Eyck Academie, in which selected PhD candidates from all artistic and academic disciplines can pursue Maastricht-style artistic research.

In the academic year 2020/21, MERIAN will be launched as a space for collaborative research in between making and thinking. PhD candidates engage in innovative styles of research, utilizing the powers and fragilities of artistic and scientific practices. Their research addresses urgent matters of societal concern apparent in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. This collaboration between Maastricht University, Zuyd Hogeschool and the Jan van Eyck Academie builds on existing expertise from the research, arts and higher education networks in Maastricht. The distinct Maastricht style of “research in and through the arts” is problem-based, methodologically innovative, and focuses on interdisciplinary topics that can fruitfully be explored across the arts and academia.

MERIAN is a collaboration between:

  • Jan van Eyck Academie, department Research & Education;
  • Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy and Public Sphere, Maastricht Academy of Arts, Toneelacademie Maastricht & Conservatorium Maastricht, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences;
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering (University College Maastricht) of Maastricht University, including MACCH and MCICM (The Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music).

For further information about MERIAN, please contact Ruth Benschop, head of the MERIAN working group and lector Arts, Autonomy and the Public Sphere at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences via: Ghislaine.boere[at]zuyd[dot]nl.

NWO Comenius Teaching Fellowship Research Studio Project
Collaborating in MERIAN, University College Maastricht (UCM) and Zuyd Research Centre for Arts, autonomy and the public sphere received an NWO Comenius Teaching Fellowship to develop an innovative ‘research-based-learning’ module at UCM: the Research Studio Project. In the project students explore ways of connecting research in the arts and academia, by engaging in research on a ‘real-life topic’, under the dual guidance of a professional theatre artist and an academic researcher. Ruth Benschop (Zuyd Research Centre for Arts, autonomy and the public sphere), and MACCH affiliated researchers Christoph Rausch and Inge Römgens (both UCM) received a NWO Comenius Teaching Fellowship to develop the Research Studio Project. The Comenius fellowship is a grant for educational innovation projects. As part of UCMs ‘research-based-learning’ opportunities, the Research Studio Project enables students to apply academic knowledge to a real-life, practical issue; the ‘practical issue’ at stake in the first pilot is the question ‘what is a home in situations of (elderly) care?’. Furthermore, the project is about acquiring knowledge about said social issue by engaging in an art practice, in this case theatre. The pilot starts on 4 February 2019 and runs the entire Spring semester.