PhD position, numerical modeling of wood damage for museum conservation

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Created: February 24, 2013


 Job description

The Climate4Wood project:

The Climate4Wood project is funded by NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research): Science4Arts which aims to develop and strengthen interchange between the research of various research institutions and the museological field (

The Climate4Wood project team operates within a unique interdisciplinary cooperation of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (, Eindhoven and Delft Universities of Technology and Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

Damage caused by fluctuations in museum climate is regarded as one of the main risks to museum collections. Very strict standards for climate specifications have been developed in the past, leading to high implementation and energy costs. Research done since the 1990's indicates that these specifications might be unnecessarily strict. Further research is required to define to which extent climate specifications can be relaxed without causing damage to susceptible objects, in particular wooden panels (paintings and furniture). The thermal, hygroscopic and mechanical processes responsible for damage in wood need to be understood in full detail in order to arrive at adequate recommendations for the preservation of wooden panels. 

The aim of the Climate4Wood project is to identify the fluctuations in relative humidity that decorated wooden panels can safely sustain and to develop rational guidelines for the climate specifications in the museums. The two PhD's in conservation and in thermo-hygro-mechanical modelling will closely work together to understand the response of wooden panels and the damage failure criteria. A postdoc will determine and model the relevant non-linear material properties. The project outcome will enable the development of a decision-making model that will help museums to reduce their energy and maintenance costs and to preserve their collections.

The 2 positions:

1. PhD in panel conservation: Not vacant anymore: This position has been filled since 1 December 2012

The PhD candidate will carry out a systematic analysis of climate related degradation of decorated panels (paintings and furniture) in the collection of the Rijksmuseum as well as some related panels in other collections. Based on this study parameters will be defined which are relevant for material and mechanical modelling. The candidate will work mainly in the Rijksmuseum and will closely collaborate with PhD2.

2. PhD in thermo-hygro-mechanical modelling of wood damage:

The aim of this PhD project is to develop a robust and reliable numerical tool that can be used for the prediction of wood damage under coupled thermo-hygro-mechanical loading conditions. The damage mechanisms developing in wood include local plasticity and fracture, where the orientation is influenced by the principal directions of the orthotropic microstructure. The properties of the microstructural constituents (cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin) change with time, thereby possibly inducing aging of the effective material properties. The goal is to incorporate these complex characteristics and mechanisms in a micro-mechanical material formulation, which subsequently will be implemented within a Finite Element Model (FEM) for performing advanced numerical analyses on wooden panel paintings. The properties and geometry of the gesso and paint layers are accounted for in model variation studies, which must lead to a detailed insight and the formulation of solid guidelines for the preservation of wooden panel paintings.

The appointed candidate will work mainly in the TU/e and will closely collaborate with PhD1.


Applicants should have the following qualifications:

1. PhD in panel conservation: Not vacant anymore: This position has been filled since 1 December 2012

2. PhD in thermo-hygro-mechanical modelling of wood damage


The candidate should have an MSc degree in engineering, and have a strong affinity with material science. Experience with the following topics is recommended:
Continuum mechanics
Partial differential equations
Numerical methods
FEM code development

Further requirements are:
An excellent command of English, both written and spoken
Good communication skills and being pro-active
Being able to work on interdisciplinary topics
Affinity with works of art

Conditions of employment:

We offer a challenging job in dynamic and ambitious environments; The gross monthly salary increases from € 2042,- in the first year to € 2612,- in the fourth year, plus 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of the year allowance. Besides this, the TU/e has an excellent package of attractive benefits for employees, a child-care facility, and a modern sports complex. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given.
The employment is for a period of 4 years. The total duration of the project is five years. The project has started 1 December 2012.
Additional information


For more information about the project, please contact:

PhD Position 1: Mr. P van Duin, Head of Furniture Conservation Rijksmuseum; email, tel: +31 (0) 20 674 7105 or +31 (0) 6 51147160. 
PhD Position 2: H.L. Schellen, Associate Professor; email, tel: +31 (0) 40 247 2651.

For information about conditions of employment, you could contact Ms. C.N.A. van Iperen, HR officer, email, tel. +31 (0)40 247 3901).


Applicants should apply online by using the button 'apply now'. The application must include:
A statement of purpose
A detailed curriculum vitae
A list of BSc- and MSc-grades
A copy of the MSc thesis
Two recommendation letters
The deadline for applications is April 30, 2013.
Don't send your application by email.
More information about employer Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) on AcademicTransfer. Direct link to this job opening:


Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013 03:48 UTC

Last updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 23:45 UTC