AGATO was developed as a part of the research project ArtGarden
or Art Technical Research and Preservation of Historical Mixed - Media Ensembles: 'Enclosed Gardens'
Central to this project is the unique collection of seven Enclosed Gardens from the Mechelen City Museum. The Enclosed Garden' date back to the 16th Century and belonged to the former convent of Mechelen's Hospital Sisters. They are testimonials of a high artistic quality, religious handcraft and devotional tradition. For the Hospital Sisters, these retables were a way to experience their devotion and spirituality. The Enclosed Garden are wooden retable cabinets with virtually countless little elements composed of a multitude of materials in complex configurations: brass and silk flowers, glass and brass berries, polychrome wooden statuettes, paper banderoles, relics, etc.
The restoration of these extraordinary Belgian heritage artifacts were the starting point for the network project ArtGarden. The ArtGarden team comprises art historians, conservator-restorers, preventive conservation specialists and conservation scientists who delve into the multifaceted process of safeguarding and enabling the sustainable use of each Enclosed Garden.
One part of the project focuses on their conservation treatment, supported by advanced imaging techniques, laboratory analyses, and art historical research. Another part tackles preventive conservation issues. For complex objects like these, the choice of preventive conservation measures is not straightforward. Therefore, the project partners have developed an online decision-support tool AGATO to help heritage caretakers make more knowledgeable decisions.
This tool aims at wider applicability to cover historical mixed-media objects in general. Content, language, illustrations, and interface design have been conceived to be user-friendly and match the target audience of heritage caretakers. This tool aims at wider applicability to cover historical mixed-media objects in general.
ArtGarden is a network-project funded by the Belgian Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy, Belspo (2016-2022). It is part of the BRAIN-be research program (Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary Networks).
Belspo website: www.belspo.be/belspo/brain-be/themes_6_Collect_en.stm
Many thanks to Helena Calvo del Castillo, Research Programme Manager - Heritage Science Belspo, for the close follow-up and support.
The strength of the ArtGarden project lies in the powerful collaboration between the three scientific project partners, which include :
During the course of the ArtGarden project, an expert meeting with national and international experts met in January 2019 to discuss the fundamental issues of the project, to evaluate the progress of the research and guide the different phases of the project.
During the in-depth discussions and consultations, the experts gave input on the development of AGATO: the scope, the target audience, the content, the software and potential case-studies.
During the course of the entire project, the coordinator regularly contacted several experts to check on specific issues.
Members of the expert meeting:
Belgian ArtGarden team (KIK-IRPA, KU Leuven, UA):
Marjolijn Debulpaep (Head of the Preventive Conservation Unit, KIK-IRPA, coordinator)
Elke Otten (Scientific Collaborator on ArtGarden, Preventive Conservation Unit)
Willemien Anaf ((former) Scientific Collaborator on ArtGarden, Preventive Conservation Unit)
Marina Van Bos (Scientific Collaborator, Paper, Leather & Parchement Laboratories, KIK-IRPA)
Ina Vanden Berghe (Scientific Collaborator, Textiles Laboratories, KIK-IRPA)
Lieve Watteeuw (Head of Book Heritage Lab & VIEW, Illuminare, KU Leuven, promotor)
Bruno Vandermeulen (Head of VIEW, KU Leuven)
Hendrik Hameeuw (Scientific Collaborator, VIEW, KU Leuven)
Mark Proesmans (Scientific Collaborator, ESAT, KU Leuven)
Karolien De Wael (Research professor, A-Sense Lab, Antwerp University, promotor)
Andrea Marchetti (Scientific Collaborator on ArtGarden, A-Sense Lab)
Victoria Beltran (Scientific Collaborator on ArtGarden, A-Sense Lab)
National experts (B):
Caroline Meert | Monumentenwacht Interior Antwerp, former Scientific Collaborator on ArtGarden for KIK-IRPA
Erik Buelinckx | Supervisor of the Documentation Centre, KIK-IRPA
Hannah Iterbeke | (former) Collection Care, Museum Hof van Busleyden, Mechelen
Elsje Janssen | (former) Director of Collections, Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp
Stefan Michalski | (retired) Senior Conservation Scientist, Preservation Services Department, Canadian Conservation Institute
José Luiz Pedersoli Jr. | Project Manager, Conservation of Collection, ICCROM, Rome
Bart Ankersmit | Senior Researcher, Cultural Heritage Laboratory, RCE, The Netherlands
Ruven Pillay | Research Scientist, Project Manager at Archive Visualization and Exploitation, C2RMF, Paris
Belgian colleagues and experts:
Hilde De Clercq | General Director a.i., KIK-IRPA
Griet Kockelkoren | Head of the Textiles Restoration Workshop, KIK-IRPA
Laura Debry | Collaborator of the Preventive Conservation Unit, KIK-IRPA
Estelle De Bruyn | Collaborator of the Preventive Conservation Unit, KIK-IRPA
Edwin De Roock | Head of IT, KIK-IRPA
Wim Fremout | Scientific Collaborator of the Painting Laboratories, KIK-IRPA
Claudine Belleflamme | (retired) Programme Manager, Belspo
Maaike Vancauwenberghe | Programme Manager, Belspo