The University of Antwerp is a young, dynamic and progressive Belgian university. Every day, the commitment of more than 5,000 employees ensures that innovative education is provided for more than 20,000 students, that knowledge-pushing fundamental and applied research is carried out and that the university can fulfil its important role in social services. In its pursuit of international excellence, the University of Antwerp is a research university in the true sense with particularly strong expertise in the following spearhead domains in research: Imaging; Neurosciences; Infectious diseases; Drug research; Material characterization; Ecology and sustainable development; Port, transport and logistics; Big city, history and contemporary policy; Socio-economic policy and organization.

The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), founded in 1897, is a leading multidisciplinary research institute and knowledge centre on cultural and natural heritage in Africa, particularly in Central Africa, in a historical, contemporary and global context. The RMCA is part of the federal scientific institutions, which in turn are led by the Science Policy Ministry. It is a place of remembrance of the colonial past of Belgium and strives to be a dynamic platform for exchanges and dialogues between cultures and generations. The core tasks of this African-oriented institution therefore consist in acquiring and managing collections, conducting scientific research and valorizing the results thereof, disseminating knowledge and presenting to the general public a choice from its collections. The RMCA has a research mission and a public service mission related to the artistic and cultural heritage in Belgian collections originating from Central Africa and other overseas parts of the world. The aim is to promote – among the general public and the scientific community – understanding and interest in this area and to contribute to its sustainable development through relevant partnerships. The museum has the largest collection of objects about Central Africa in the world.

The Faculty of Science of the University of Antwerp and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) have the following full-time position (100%) vacant.

This function consists of 2 related appointments in the context of the FEDtWIN funding program of the Belgian federal government, in particular:

Part-time (50%) appointment as Postdoctoral assistant at UAntwerpen, UA, Faculty of Science, Research Groups AXIS and Toxicological Centre

Part-time (50%) appointment as Work Leader (Class SW2) at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, RMCA

FEDtWIN is a new federal research program of the Federal Public Service Science Policy (BELSPO) with the aim of stimulating sustainable cooperation between ten federal science institutions and Belgian universities by funding joint research profiles.

This vacancy aims to fill the FEDtWIN research profile EPITOXAnalytical Research on toxic materials in the ethnographic collection [of the Royal Museum for Central Africa] to obtain knowledge about handling and preservation of the collection. (Profile number Prf-2021-007)

You will implement the FEDtWIN EPITOX research profile within the UAntwerp (50%) and the RMCA (50%).

The University of Antwerp has a threefold mission of education, research and services. Within the AXIS research group, research is being conducted into imaging methods that are useful for non-invasive analysis of works of art and (toxic) pigments. Within the Toxicological Centre, attention is paid to sensitive analysis of organic compounds relevant to human health, including biocides. In the development of new instruments, combinations of analytical principles or methods are increasingly being used to allow the weaknesses of one method to be compensated for by the strengths of another technique. The progress made in this way in the methodological and instrumental field benefits the museum community and the art conservation sector worldwide. This equipment is also used to a certain extent for social services and in education, for example. in the context of Bachelor's and Master's theses of students of different disciplines.

The RMCA's collection management service contributes to the sustainable management of the collection by identifying materials of which the heritage object is composed, by determining the state of conservation of these materials and by (preventively and actively) conserving the heritage artifacts. The information thus acquired is relevant for anthropological, archaeological and (art) historical studies and crucial for the conservation of the collection. Multiple complementary analysis techniques are combined with a view to maximizing information. In doing so, the service strives to have expertise in connection with all relevant analysis techniques.

Short description of the EPITOX Project:

Anthropological, historical and art historical research are established areas of research in relation to the ethnographic collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa. In addition to this research, analytical research on objective factual documentation of material from the collection is also required for a full understanding of the collection and for advances in conservation and treatment approaches implemented at the RMCA, as well as to support anthropological provenance research. Material analysis is crucial for an ethnographic collection with known history of biocide application. Having objective analytical data on toxic substances is vital for the protection of RMCA employees, researchers and other stakeholders from health risks. This FEDtWIN profile focuses on the study of (in)organic toxic substances (e.g. biocides and pigments) in the RMCA's ethnographic collection, used for risk management, (preventive) conservation and/or provenance documentation of the collection.

It is expected that the FEDtWIN mandate holder will be involved in the following specific activities:

  • setting up a (chronological) biocide database of the collection
  • make the origin of the artefacts more objective, for example by studying the use of pigments
  • defining, documenting, and encouraging daily use of safe handling practices for RMCA professionals and stakeholders
  • improvement of the preventive conservation and exhibition strategies of RMCA artefacts for further exploration, organization and valorization of the museum collection
  • enrichment of communication with the museum audience through 'science' augmented visualization of artefacts and their function/meaning in their original context

EPITOX has a 10-year perspective, but will initially focus on analysis of toxic materials in the collection. Therefore, a first objective of this project involves the preparation, validation and implementation of a largely non-invasive protocol for qualitative identification of inorganic toxic substances and pigments on e.g. wood, textiles and feathers in ethnographic artefacts, including the creation of spectral databases (Infrared, Raman and X-ray diffraction) of relevant materials. Variants of these protocols for characterizing interior surfaces of museum showcases and storage racks will also be defined. As a second objective, sampling procedures will be optimized, validated and implemented for identifying organic biocidal residues, with the aim of proposing risk mitigation strategies. A complete characterization of these materials and their degradation products is necessary, including systematic studies on manufacturing processes, degradation mechanisms and mobility and/or volatility of toxins. At the same time, this action improves knowledge about the (sensitive) materials in the collection; this information will form the factual basis for proposing new guidelines for preventive conservation in the RMCA.


  1. The Uantwerpen 50% BAP (Bijzonder Academisch personeel) assignment is focused on research with some support for educational activities.
  2. The RMCA’s 50% appointment as a scientific researcher is focused on research and services.

The two institutions have recently started the EPITOX project (Analytical Research on toxic materials in the ethnographic collection [of the Royal Museum for Central Africa] to obtain knowledge about handling and preservation of the collection)  and are currently looking for

A Doctor of Science (either Chemistry or Physics) or in Conservation-Restoration

The candidate will be active in research, development and refinement of non-invasive analysis techniques in order to enable better identification, characterization and visualization of the materials (and other characteristics) present in ethnographic heritage objects and related materials. Analytical data obtained through the application of spectroscopic methods (X-rays, vibrational) and chromatographic techniques are the basis for this. The candidate’s role will be to provide analytical, spectroscopic (and chemical) expertise to all aspects of the research. The candidate will therefore have practical experience with analytical methods and data interpretation, ideally within a heritage science context. The candidate will also play an important coordinating role in the project and will be involved in all activities in the field of dissemination, exploitation and valorization of the results.


  • the development/refinement of non-invasive analytical methods and protocols for the study of ethnographic heritage objects such as masks, textiles, musical instruments, weapons… in order to obtain more information about the composition of these objects, their pigmentation and the extent to which they were treated with biocides. Both inorganic and organic methods and components enjoy attention;
  • the application of these analytical techniques to heritage objects, including the processing and interpretation of the results;
  • responsibility for the data processing and management and valorization of this data, both within the various institutions and towards the general public;
  • starting up new research projects within the theme of the FEDtWIN profile and their follow-up;
  • active participation in national or international conferences within the theme of the FEDtWIN profile as well as regular publication in scientific and other professional literature;
  • the active support of the project, both scientifically and administratively. This includes involvement in the management and further implementation of the project, where and when necessary.


In the field of service provision, the tasks include:

  • be actively involved in the valorization and communication of the results, both to specialists through scientific reports and publications in peer-reviewed journals, and to a larger audience.
  • provide support within the RMCA in terms of analytical methods within the collection management department.
  • provide support within UA to the AXIS and Toxicological Centre research groups, for example in the context of Bache’or's and Mas’er's theses that are in line with the project.


In the field of education and information, the tasks include:

  • involvement in the supervision of visits to the R’CA's collection management service by third parties (universities, colleges, individuals in groups, etc.) and external communication about the activities within the laboratory.
  • responsibility for assisting teaching tasks (theoretical and practical exercises, etc.).


  • You have a PhD degree in Science (either chemistry or physics) or in Conservation-Restoration, and you obtained this degree within the last twelve years of the deadline for submitting your candidacy for this position. This 12-year period shall be extended by one year for each absence due to pregnancy, parental or adoption leave, as well as any long-term absence due to illness of the candidate or a long-term illness of a first-degree family member.
  • You preferably have relevant postdoc experience at a university, heritage institution or a museum.
  • You have a background in instrumental chemical analysis, preferably a combination of inorganic and organic and preferably experience methods for detection of volatile organic compounds, pesticides and pigments (within a heritage context)
  • You have experience with conservation sciences
  • You have experience with the use of scientific measuring equipment in a museum context and their systematic use for analysis of heritage objects.
  • You have a strong interest in conducting and disseminating innovative high-quality research in an interdisciplinary area.
  • In addition to the right technical knowledge and experience, you will have excellent skills in reporting, communication, project management and interpersonal relationships.
  • You have experience with and you are aware of the ethics of (preventive) art conservation and art sampling protocols.
  • You are interested in African and non-Western art and/or conservation.

What we offer

We offer a combined appointment to the UAntwerp and to the RMCA.

The University of Antwerp offers:

  • A part-time (50%) contract of indefinite duration as a postdoctoral researcher (BAP).
  • Your gross monthly salary as a postdoctoral researcher is calculated according to the scales of doctor-assistant in the pay scales for the Special Academic Staff (BAP).
  • You will largely work on Campus Groenenborger, in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • You will receive eco vouchers, internet connectivity allowance and a bicycle allowance or full refund of your commute by public transport.
  • Read  more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

The RMCA offers:

  • A contract of indefinite duration, part-time (50%) as a work leader (salary scale SW2) in contractual employment.
  • A gross monthly salary of at least € 2539 (50%) to the RMCA (100% gross payment level on an annual basis: 60 945 euros plus the holiday pay and the end-of-year bonus).
  • Place of employment: RMCA in Tervuren/Brussels; UAntwerpen in Wilrijk/Antwerp.
  • 38h working week, variable work schedule (RMCA and UAntwerp).
  • Free public transport to and from work, bicycle allowance (RMCA and UAntwerp).
  • Low-cost hospitalization insurance (RMCA).
  • Various advantages thanks to the BELSPO card (RMCA).

The date of entry into service at both institutions can be determined in more detail, preferably before March 2024.

How to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy via the online application platform of the University of Antwerp until Januari 29th 2024 (at midnight). apply for this vacancy via the online application platform of the University of Antwerp. Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to add the following attachments: (1) your motivation letter, (2) the completed application attachment, (3) your academic CV.
  • The selection committee will review all applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you and inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, you can consult the Frequently Asked Questions or send an e-mail to
  • If you have substantive questions about the position, please contact Prof. Dr. Koen Janssens ( and Siska Genbrugge (