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75 years at the service of Belgian heritage

In 2023, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Come and join us for the anniversary celebration of this unique institution in Belgium. Visit KIK-IRPA during the open day on 2 March and expect many surprises!


Did you know that the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2023? After the end of the war, a decree of the Regent dated 24 June 1948 established the "Archives centrales iconographiques d'Art national" and the "Laboratoire central des Musées de Belgique (ACL)", a new institution, independent of the Royal Museums of Art and History. They became one of the ten federal scientific institutions a year later: the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA). This multidisciplinary work project supported by Paul Coremans was finally recognised: art historians, photographers, chemists, physicists and restorers were brought together with a common goal: to focus on the inventory, scientific study and conservation of our heritage for the benefit of the whole country.

"The aesthetic, historical, scientific and technical elements of appreciation are all aspects of the same problem. All of them are equally important to us and must contribute in equal measure to the final success", said Paul Coremans in the visitors' guide to the exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1951.

Hilde De Clercq

"With the Second World War still fresh in everyone's mind, KIK-IRPA was founded by Coremans, following a unique interdisciplinary model in which research in the heritage field was brought together in a specific location. The Institute soon became a model and a reference point for cultural heritage worldwide. Today, 75 years later, the synergy between the different disciplines is still the key to the success of the Institute. However, the context in which we work has changed radically, both in Belgium and worldwide. The challenges we face were almost unimaginable 75 years ago: climate change, digital transformation, migration, the global energy and economic crises and the growing need to consider the social impact. The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage strives to be flexible in responding to these international dynamics."

Hilde De Clercq, Director General a.i. of KIK-IRPA

Join us in celebrating this unique institution in Belgium, a unique element of our heritage sector. Visit KIK-IRPA during the open day on 2 March and meet our staff during this fascinating day. If you are a heritage professional, meet our experts during the sector day on 3 March. And join us at Heritage Days in Brussels on 17 and 18 September. You can also expect many surprises. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

Thomas Dermine

"The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage plays an essential role in the inventorying, studying and preservation of our heritage. Together with its management, we wanted the Institute to respond to the field's needs, to make its data accessible to all, in short, to become even better rooted in society. Through the diffusion of knowledge via open access, a project such as "Chrisis", which responds to the needs in terms of disaster management for the whole country, or an event such as the "Heritage Challenge", which questions Belgians about the heritage that is meaningful to them, all contribute to this anchoring. I hope that KIK-IRPA's excellent work will continue with the same success in order to promote our heritage for our contemporaries and safeguard it for future generations."

Thomas Dermine, State Secretary for Science Policy

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