Cooperation throughout Europe in Research on Cultural Heritage


The Rathgen-Forschungslabor coordinates the activities in Germany for the EU-funded infrastructure project IPERION HS, which was launched on 1 April 2020. IPERION HS stands for Integrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure on Heritage Science.

As part of the ESFRI roadmap (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), IPERION HS is thus setting out to establish the conditions for creating pan-European infrastructure in the field of heritage science (cultural heritage research) by the start of the operational phase of the E-RIHS (European Research Infrastructure on Heritage Science) research infrastructure network in 2023.

IPERION HS currently involves 23 countries (including the non-EU countries Israel, Mexico, Brazil and the US) with 68 research institutions which have made outstanding achievements in the interdisciplinary fields of conservation science, archaeology, building and materials science, and others. This opens up cross-border access for numerous researchers and restorers to state-of-the-art stationary scientific analysis resources (FIXLAB), mobile examination methods (MOLAB), physical data collections and archives (ARCHLAB) and to a developing platform of digitised data (DIGILAB).

Partners in the German consortium are the following institutions:

  • Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ) of the Technical University of Munich,
  • Institute for Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry of the RWTH Aachen University,
  • Doerner Institute of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen,
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP),
  • Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry (CEZA),
  • Competence Center Archaeometry Baden-Wuerttemberg (CCA-BW) of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
  • German Archaeological Institute (DAI)


The ARCHLAB platform enables scientists, restorers, monument conservators and other specialists. to access extensive scientific data in archives and collections. This includes partly unpublished analytical data, technical descriptions, reference samples and documentation on conservation from the archives of European institutions.

A committee of experts decides twice a year on the applications for access to ARCHLAB.

Within ARCHLAB, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz enables a wide range of interested parties to use the archives, libraries and data collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.


IPERION HS enables researchers to use non-transportable technical equipment from large and medium-sized facilities for their investigations. This allows research to be carried out on highly specialised equipment such as particle accelerators, mass spectrometers or neutron sources. In addition, special laboratory facilities such as ultra-pure laboratories (for molecular genetic investigations or ultra-trace analysis, for example), are also involved.

Scientists from a range of disciplines are eligible to apply for access. Additionally, representatives of historical disciplines from archaeology to art history as well as restorers, monument conservators and small and medium-sized enterprises active in cultural heritage research are also eligible. In this context, academic as well as commercial enterprises can submit single or multi-analysis applications.


MOLAB (Mobile Laboratory) is another scientific platform included in IPERION HS. MOLAB enables the investigation of cultural assets by transportable facilities, since numerous archaeological objects, works of art, sculptures etc. are non-mobile for various reasons (such as their value, fragility, size, transport costs) and cannot be moved from their sites to stationary analytical equipment. Furthermore, many cultural heritage objects (buildings, monuments, etc.) are not transportable at all. Due to the uniqueness of the objects examined, material analyses often have to be carried out non-destructively and without taking samples. For these reasons, the analysis of these immovable objects of cultural heritage must be carried out at their sites using non-invasive methods. The necessary mobile technical equipment must allow comprehensive chemical and structural analysis of inorganic, metallic and sometimes even organic materials.

People involved in cultural heritage research from a wide range of backgrounds in academia and industry are able to apply to MOLAB.