Established in 1948, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) is one of ten scientific institutions falling within the competence of the Federal Ministry of Scientific Policy. KIK-IRPA is committed to the inventory, the scientific study, the conservation and the promotion of the country’s artistic and cultural property. The Institute, whose chief mission is research and public service, represents a unique instrument for the heritage of our country, both movable and immovable. Three departments group art historians, photographers, chemists, physicists and conservator-restorers. By comparing their observations, they gather reference material and study works of art from different points of view: their composition, evolution, ageing of materials and how to treat them. Any restoration treatment will be based on this detailed pre-study. Our specialists advise researchers and curators of both public and private collections. An impressive photo library is also available for public use. The photo library contains, at present, over one million photos. Furthermore, the publications, the photo inventory and the organization of courses, conferences and seminars reflect the role KIK-IRPA plays in the promotion of heritage and the diffusion of tools for researchers and the public. The Institute groups these laboratories, conservation-restoration workshops, photographic workshops, a photo library and a library in a single building.



As a memory institution KIK-IRPA will in PREFORMA follow up on the image formats. With its daily growing archive the need for a long term solution for preservation of digital images, is becoming one of the core activities of the institute. Although the TIFF format was chosen internally as the preferred for master preservation file, this doesn’t mean that KIK-IRPA will not look at other propositions like JPEG2000, if these will prove to be a better solution. From our large collection of digital files, selecting sets for testing will help PREFORMA realizing its goals with the aid and input of our specialised staff.


Erik Buelinckx

Erik Buelinckx is a scientific researcher in Art History. He is also responsible for several belgian and european projects at KIK-IRPA’s department of documentation and for the institute’s documentary image databases. He holds Masters in “Information and Library Science”, “Documentation and Library Science” and “Art History and Archaeology”. Currently he is in the last stage of a PhD in Art History (2014-2015). He has an experience spanning almost fifteen years on the different levels which constitute the creation, maintenance and conservation of digital (meta)data about cultural heritage. He works in the Department of Documentation where he is responsible for documentary image databases and digitisation projects. At the University of Antwerp he was responsible for a project on web-based education. He has experience in European projects like DCH-RP, Partage Plus & AthenaPlus. He is a member of the Belgian National Consultation Panel for Cultural Heritage and Global Change (JPI), and works on several interregional and international collaborations on multilingual thesauri in the field of cultural heritage.

Hilke Arijs studied Audiovisual techniques and obtained a Master’s degree in Art sciences and archaeology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She has been working for the Belgian Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) since 2007, where she coordinated several conservation and digitization campaigns and is responsible for the collection of photographic materials. Since 2008, she has been specializing in preventive conservation of photographic and audiovisual collections. She teaches several workshops on the conservation and management of photographic collections and operates on a regular base as a consultant for other institutions.

Hans Opstaele obtained his Master’s degree in Applied computer sciences at Ghent University (UGent) in 1996 where he did his thesis on intelligent routing in broadband communication networks. Following his graduation, he worked as a scientific assistant on the planning management of computer networks (INTEC, UGent) and as a software architect for speech-recognition software and digital video systems (Lernout and Hauspie Speech Company NV). Hans has several years of experience teaching computer science, physics and mathematics. He is responsible for the IT department of KIK-IRPA and developed an in-house digital preservation system.