Rijksmuseum and AkzoNobel Team Up for Restoration of “The Night Watch”

Rijksmuseum Tour

The Night Watch Painting

Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch” is set to go through a live restoration, owing to a three-year partnership between the Rijksmuseum and the MNC named AkzoNobel.

In a blend of the old and new, the “Operation Night Watch” project team will use a series of innovative techniques and tools to execute a major examination and restoration of the 1642 painting by Rembrandt. It will all take place with other people observing and getting involved.

From July 08, 2019, a team of conservators, restorers and researchers from the museum in Amsterdam will work in collaboration with universities and museums in Holland and overseas, including AkzoNobel color experts. They will be enclosed in a special chamber of glass, which has been made in front of Rembrandt’s painting to make sure it can stay on display for those on a Rijksmuseum tour.

The initial stage of “Operation Night Watch” will involve taking ultra-high resolution photos, with an imaging frame specifically built for this purpose, and will use lasers and scanners to examine the painting at microscopic levels.

When the research phase completes, many terabytes of information will have been gathered. This will be analyzed in a careful manner to find out the ideal way to go about restoring the work of art for years to come.

Taco Dibbits, the Rijksmuseum’s General Director, said, “We’re about to embark on the biggest and most innovative restoration in the museum’s 219-year history. The Rijksmuseum continually monitors the condition of The Night Watch, and we’ve discovered that changes are occurring, such as blanching on the figure of the dog in the lower right of the painting. To gain a better understanding of its condition as a whole, the decision has been taken to conduct a thorough examination.”

The CEO of AkzoNobel, Thierry Vanlancker added, “…[W]e’re excited to be contributing our expertise and passion for paint to help restore a cultural icon. There’s a natural link between us, not only because our company also has a long and proud heritage. We’re similarly driven by exploring new horizons and being inspired by the past while building for the future. So we have a lot of expertise to share and can’t wait to play a key role in helping to advance our technical understanding of color.”

The resolution of photos being taken will be 5,430 dots per inch. Sophisticated scanners will be employed to examine the crevices and cracks, and a hi-tech laser will be used to look into the pigments at a nano-level. The resulting works will be made available to visitors so they can also help check the validity of the data.