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Sustainability Unit

Sustainability is a broad theme that is an inherent part of our work, yet it requires a change in our mindset and daily practices. While a transition to a new dynamic is complex, it has to be addressed now. With the creation of the Sustainability Unit, KIK-IRPA puts emphasis on a sustainable transition through interdisciplinary collaboration within its own walls and for our Belgian Cultural Institutions.

Our Mission

The Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage mission is to help preserve our Belgian heritage for the future. Sustainability is an inherent part of that mission. The institute aims at integrating sustainable practices internally while leading research on knowledge gaps in the cultural heritage field more broadly.

The Sustainability Unit focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration with allied fields to develop a cultural institutions’ sustainable mindset. It is dedicated to creating tools and providing support and guidance to facilitate the integration of sustainability in daily practice. It currently addresses themes such as energy reduction, climate change and emergency response.


At the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage, we define a sustainable cultural institution as a high-quality institution that avoids overkill and waste, strives for optimization and constant improvement with respect for existing practices and the communities that they represent, suitable for its activities and heritage requirements, while while working in accordance with its own priorities.

Estelle De Bruyn

Our projects

The projects within the Sustainability Unit are built on interdisciplinary collaboration. Through teamwork with regional and international partners we aim to solve practical problems from different angles. This helps us to integrate sustainable solutions from a projects first steps and within a wide range of projects.

Within the theme of sustainability, we currently focus on our energy transition and emergency response. We recognize the importance of social sustainability and aim to integrate this expertise within our dynamic and growing team.

Our current projects are:

  • Emergency preparedness and response: this project aims to develop emergency strategies to safeguard cultural heritage in case of major crises.
  • CHrisis: KIK-IRPA helps coordinate salvage efforts for cultural institutions that have suffered from floods in the east of Belgium between the 14th and 16th of July. The information gathered will be integrated into directives for anticipating and preventing further disasters.
  • Climate2Preserv: this project focuses on developing a protocol, handbook and toolbox to help mid-size to large museums (Federal Scientific Institutions) integrate energy-saving measures while improving the long and short-term collection environment.
  • Resilient Storage: this project helps small to mid-size museums reduce their energy consumption for their storage areas in the short term on a limited budget.

Please browse our current projects to discover how we work and contact us for further information, partnership requests or consultancy.

Our partners

We often collaborate with in-house departments such as the ‘Monuments Unit’ and the ‘Preventive Conservation Unit’ who exchange their expertise with us when needed. However, our projects could not exist without intensive collaboration with our valuable external partners and funding bodies. Therefore we would like to extend our gratitude to:

Our national partners:

FARO, Vlaams Steunpunt voor Cultureel Erfgoed
Musées et Société en Wallonie (MSW)
Brussels Museums
University of Liège (ULiège)
Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
ICOM Belgium Flanders
ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Antoine Wiertz Museum
The Royal Belgian Film Archive (CINEMATEK)
The Belgian Comic Strip Center
The FeliXart Museum

Our international partners:

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI)
The Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO)
The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI)
Academia Belgica

Our funding bodies:

The Brussels-Capital Region (
The Flemish Government (Department Culture, Youth and Media)
The Federation Wallonia-Brussels
The Belgian Science Policy Office (Belspo).

Do you have any questions or want more information? Please contact us!

Estelle Debruyn
Estelle De Bruyn

Our experts

Annelies Cosaert
Henry Pierard
Anne-Catherine Olbrechts
Laure Marique