Two PhD positions in Cultural Heritage Search

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Created: December 13, 2012


The Allard Pierson Museum of Archaeology is part of the UvA heritage division and the University Library, and closely collaborates with the Faculty of Humanities on digital media in and around the museum and its extensive collections of the civilizations of ancient Egypt, the Near East, the Greek World, Etruria and the Roman Empire. Starting in February 2013, the Allard Pierson Museum and the department of Media Studies of the Faculty of Humanities participate for four years in the EU-FP7 funded project on "Material EncounterS with Cultural Heritage" (meSch) as part of an international consortium.

Project Description

The core problem underlying all digital artifacts is the loss of materiality which is crucial to the appreciation of traditional cultural heritage: how to make digital artifacts tangible in ways that transfer the feeling of materiality, authenticity, or "aura"? The Material EncounterS with digital Cultural Heritage (meSch) project will design, develop and deploy tools that connect the physical experience of museums and exhibitions with relevant digital cross-media information in novel ways - allowing visitors to "touch the story." A wealth of digital cultural heritage content is available in on-line repositories and archives. However, this rich context is accessible in limited ways and remains separated from the traditional exhibition of objects inside the museum. MeSch will bridge the gap between visitors’ cultural heritage experience on-site and on-line by providing a platform for the creation of tangible smart exhibits. This includes an authoring toolkit that enables heritage professionals to compose physical/digital narratives to be mapped to interactive artifacts, which can be embedded into sensor-rich "smart objects" that unlock this information in physical smart exhibits. Three large-scale case studies in different museums will provide test beds for the real-world evaluation of meSch technology with the public and cultural heritage stakeholders.

Position 1: Search and recommendation over rich data

The first candidate will contribute to the technical infrastructure of meSch, and work on search and recommendation over rich museum data; enriching and linking data to external (re)sources; customization and personalization; and transaction log analysis.


A research oriented master's degree (MSc or MA);
a strong background in: i) information retrieval, especially search and recommendation, ii) semi-structured data, semantic annotation, and linked data, iii) interactive information access;
solid programming skills are a must; and
research experience or demonstrable interest in cultural and scientific heritage is a definite advantage.

Position 2: Case studies and evaluation

The second candidate will contribute to the deployment in a realistic museum context, and work on suitable use cases, the design of the authoring environment, extensive case studies with curators (back office) and visitors (front office), evaluation strategies, and formative and summative evaluations of meSch tools and the resulting smart exhibitions.


A research oriented master's degree (MA or MSc);
a strong background in: i) digital heritage collections, ii) traditional heritage descriptions, iii) access to (digital) heritage;
experience with museum and/or heritage collections is a must; and
research experience or demonstrable interest in presenting (digital) heritage narratives is a definite advantage.

Job Description

The candidates are expected to:
complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration (see text below);
regularly present intermediate research results at international workshops and conferences, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
collaborate with the other researchers in the meSch project and in the university;
participate in the organization of research activities and events at the Allard Pierson Museum such as exhibitions, conferences, workshops and joint publications;
assist in teaching activities of the Faculty of Humanities.
The meSch consortium consists of 12 partners: DEN (Netherlands), Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy), Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra (Italy), Museon (Netherlands), Sheffield Hallam University (UK, coordinator), University Carlos III Madrid (Spain), University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), University of Limerick (Ireland), University of Strathclyde (UK), University of Stuttgart (Germany), Waag Society (Netherlands), and eCTRL Solutions (Italy). The PhD candidates will actively collaborate with researchers across Europe, and we envisage visits to other partners on a regular basis.


The PhD candidates will be appointed for 4 years for 0.8 fte. The salary for the position (on a full-time basis) will be €2,042 during the first year (gross per month) and will reach €2,612 during the fourth year, in accordance with the CAO for Dutch universities.

Job Application

Applications should include a letter of motivation, a detailed curriculum vitae, a publication list, and two letters of reference. Please submit your application before 18 January 2013 by clicking "Apply Now" below. Make sure to quote the vacany number and the specific position you are applying for.


Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012 15:38 UTC

Last updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 23:46 UTC