Jaap Boon

My name is Jaap J. Boon (1947). I was trained in Geology and Chemistry at the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, and at Delft Technical University. The subject of my PhD thesis was Molecular Geochemistry of Lipids in Four Sedimentary Environments(Delft, 1978).

Topics of my postdoctoral studies (1977-1983) were marine experimental biology at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Texel, NL) and cyanobacterial ecosystems and their fossil remains at the Biomedical and Environmental Research Facility of Prof Dr A.L. Burlingame at the University of California Berkeley and San Francisco (USA).

In 1983 I was invited to become research associate at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF) in Amsterdam to run the pyrolysis mass spectrometry group. After more bacteriological oriented studies, the focus became the preservation of plant organic matter in aquatic and marine environments with a strong focus on the characterisation of particulate matter using pyrolysis mass spectrometry.

Promoted to Head of Molecular Physics at AMOLF in 1987 and appointed as Professor of Molecular Palaeobotany at the University of Amsterdam in 1988. My research focus at AMOLF gradually changed to mass spectrometer instrument development (DTMS, FTMS, LDI-MS) and analysis of polymer systems in 1990. The rationale was always opening new vistas with the developed instrumentation. The main new goal was to build an analytical FTMS system and to expand our laser photoionisation mass spectrometers.

First survey studies on painting materials and traditional paints were performed in 1991, which resulted in collaborative research with Tate Gallery London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Limburg Conservation Studio (SRAL) in Maastricht and EU supported development projects.

The NWO Priority Project MOLART (Molecular aspects of ageing in art) masterminded and granted in 1995 made it possible to start several molecular level studies focused on the chemical processes in paintings. After 10 PhD studies within in MOLART (1995-2002) on various fundamental aspects of the composition and aging processes in paintings, 7 new studies were developed in the framework of the NWO De Mayerne Program (2002-2006).

My research focus moved gradually from identification of constituents with mass spectrometry to chemical microscopy and spectroscopic imaging of pigments, binding media and their interactions in paintings.

From 2003 till 2009 I was appointed Professor of Analytical Mass Spectrometry at the University of Amsterdam. Work on art related topics was forbidden by AMOLF and FOM in 2006. My research work at AMOLF after 2006 therefore focussed on nano-biomaterials and especially structure of egg shells using electron microscopy and Xray tomography.

I started the spin off company JAAP-Enterprise for Art Scientific Studies in 2007 to transfer my knowledge on the material science of paintings and to enable to continue my advanced research for museums outside AMOLF. Collaborative research was carried out with Tate Modern London (Mark Rothko), Statens Museum for Kunst (Jacob Jordaens), Kunst Historisches Museum Vienna (Johannes Vermeer), Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst and Mauritshuis in The Hague, Conservation Department of the T.U Munich ( Baroque altar pieces), Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (JohannesVermeer), SIK Zurich (Cuno Amiet), Staatlichen Gemaelde Sammlungen Berlin (Van der Goes), National Museum of Norway Oslo (Heyerdahl, Appel and Jorn), Munch museum (Munch) a.o.

Innovative research on paints is performed at the Swiss Light Source synchrotron at PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen-CH) with support of SIK-ISEA in Zurich using several Xray beam lines (XTM, MXAS, c-SAXS) and ICON for neutron radiography studies of water transport in paint layers. I am visiting research associate at the Swiss Institute for Art Research (Zurich) till 2015.

I am presently author/coauthor of about 400 research papers and have supervised 35 PhD theses. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences gave me the Gilles Holst Gold Medal in 2007 for my innovative work at the cross roads of chemistry and physics applied to art research.

Presently my JAAP Enterprise for Art Scientific Studies company has become a full time job: painting studies for private owners, restorers, galleries and museums. Further development of stand systems of large surfaces for high magnification microscopy and spectroscopy of mostly paintings but also rare books. Stand systems operational in Netherlands (Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum), United Kingdom (Tate Gallery), Germany (State Library of Bayern) and Belgium (KIK-IRKA, Sabbe Library Leuven, Jan van Eyck restoration project). Many museum laboratories for conservation now employ our polishing jigs to improve the quality of their embedded cross sections. Devices operational in Australia, United States and Europe.