Postdoc on the subject of Pattern Recognition and Analysis for Technical Art History

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Computational Imaging research group for a talented Postdoc on the subject of Pattern Recognition and Analysis for Technical Art History

 Job description

Many objects in cultural heritage collections have a rich 3D internal structure. While the visible outer surface has been crafted with a focus on aesthetics, many of the secrets about the process of crafting the object are hidden beneath the surface, invisible to the naked eye. The combination of X-Ray CT imaging and pattern recognition are powerful tools for creating and reasoning about 3D digital representations of the interior of such objects. However, their application to the study of cultural heritage collections is not straightforward, as the objects cover many length scales and have widely varying compositions.

The goal of this postdoc project is to develop pattern recognition and analysis of CT images into a broadly usable tool for technical art history and conservation diagnostics, and make these capabilities available at the Ateliergebouw of Rijksmuseum for use on a daily basis. To this end, pattern specification and recognition techniques will be developed that are specifically tailored for the objects encountered in cultural heritage collections. Working in close collaboration with (technical) art history scholars and conservators of the Rijksmuseum, the new techniques will be applied to a selected set of high impact collection objects, answering technical questions for materials as diverse as ceramics, metal, wooden and ivory objects.

The postdoc candidate will carry out computational imaging research, focused on applying state-of-the-art algorithms in pattern recognition as well as machine learning, and constructing novel variants of these methods that are tailored towards imaging in cultural heritage. An important part of the project is the application of the techniques, using X-ray CT scanning, to concrete objects provided by conservators and technical art historians from the Rijksmuseum.

The research will primarily be performed within the Computational Imaging group at CWI, the national research center for Mathematics and Computer Science in The Netherlands (see below). The postdoc will be also be working part of his/her time at the Rijksmuseum, in close collaboration with (technical) art historians and conservators and conservation scientists. The postdoc will be supervised by Prof. Robert van Liere (CWI) and Prof. Erma Hermens (University of Amsterdam and Rijksmuseum).

This postdoc position is part of the IMPACT4Art project funded by the Dutch Science Foundation NWO, which is carried out under the umbrella of NICAS, the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science.


CT imaging, Computational Imaging, Image Processing, Pattern Recognition, Technical Art History


The candidate must have a strong background in image processing and analysis and hold a PhD degree in Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or a similar direction. Good programming skills are essential. Experience with 3D tomographic volume reconstruction is desirable. A background in art history is not essential, but a broad interest in the topic is called for. Preferable qualifications for candidates include proven research talent, an excellent command of English, and good academic writing and presentation skills.

Terms and conditions Postdoc

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The gross monthly salary for an employee on a full time basis, depending on relevant work experience, ranges from € 3,477 to € 4,945. The appointment will be for a period of 36 months.

Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling.

Please visit our website for more information about our terms of employment:

Applications can be sent to All applications should include a detailed resume, motivation letter, list of your MSc courses and grades, copy of your PhD thesis, a list of publications and at least two references that we can contact as part of the application process. For residents outside the EER-area, a Toefl English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact Prof. Robert van Liere, email, telephone +31 (0)20-592 4118.

For more information about CWI, please visit or watch our video  “A Fundamental Difference” about working at CWI.

About Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO. The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large.

CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 27 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses.

CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam that is presently developing into a major location of research in the natural sciences in The Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam and of the Vrije Universiteit as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.

Research group

The Computational Imaging Group is headed by Joost Batenburg and currently has 16 members. It is specialized in the development of advanced computational techniques for the full 3D imaging pipeline, involving adaptive image acquisition, image reconstruction, and analysis/visualization of the resulting 3D datasets. The group follows an interdisciplinary approach and has expertise in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science.


The Rijksmuseum houses six conservation studios and scientific lab facilities in the Ateliergebouw in Amsterdam. Technical Art History Research is headed by Erma Hermens and she and colleagues work in an interdisciplinary team composed of scientists, conservators and curators, both in the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam University, and from various national and international universities and cultural heritage partners. Their research focus is on the  investigation of the material and structural make-up of artefacts to understand their present condition, their historical production methods and materials,  as well as the contexts they originated in.