About Us

Developed from a partnership dating to 2004, the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) is a new collaborative endeavor in conservation science that pursues objects-based and objects-inspired scientific research.

The goals of NU-ACCESS are threefold:

  1. To conduct object-based and object-inspired research devoted to problems of interest to museums and cultural institutions through collaboration between museum professionals and university science and engineering researchers
  2. To extend research opportunities to museums and cultural institutions beyond the Art Institute of Chicago in order to share Center expertise while fostering effective coordination of research efforts and intelligent use of resources around the United States
  3. To educate scientists and engineers and their students on the opportunities and unsolved problems in conservation science, and to inform conservators, curators, and conservation scientists about the techniques and expertise available in science and engineering, which might be brought to bear on conservation science problems.


NU-ACCESS requests proposals for joint research projects, conducted by scientific staff of the NU-ACCESS in collaboration with Northwestern faculty and AIC staff.  These may be put forward by internal (Northwestern or AIC) or external individuals or groups. External proposals are expected from cultural institutions that do not have access to research facilities, as well as from museum or university scientists who lack highly specialized equipment. Proposed projects are expected to require significant technical expertise in addition to access to facilities. We seek to select projects which strike a balance between object-based (for example the study of a specific work of art, or groups of objects) and objected-inspired work (for example the development of new investigation methods or testing of a new conservation treatment).

Access to research and facilities for both internal and external users is supported by NU-ACCESS and based on a proposal submission process and evaluation by a review committee composed of both internal and external reviewers of international stature in the fields of conservation, conservation science, materials science, chemistry, art history, archaeology, environmental science, and computer science.

Northwestern University | The Art Institute of Chicago | The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
© 2013 Northwestern University and The Art Institute of Chicago