FALKE - Research Alliance Cultural Heritage

Research Collaboration for Cultural Heritage Conservation

The signing of a memorandum of understanding in the Altes Museum in Berlin on October 28, 2008 launched the interdisciplinary research alliance cultural heritage FALKE as a joint initiative of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

The aim of the alliance is to bundle the social, natural, and cultural studies expertise of the three partners in order to jointly develop and test new approaches and methods for the restoration and conservation of cultural artifacts; to further intensify the knowledge transfer between research and actual restoration; and to further embed the significance of cultural heritage in the public consciousness.

The alliance unites 15 Fraunhofer Institutes, eight Leibniz research museums, and five major institutions of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation – among these the National Museums of Berlin. Together, these aim for an active exchange of experiences and ideas. Especially the development of innovative restoration and conservation techniques are to be advanced within joint research projects. Two additional concerns addressed by FALKE are the support of young researchers as well as the expansion of national and international networks.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Leibniz-Gemeinschaft have been collaborating within FALKE since 2006. The addition of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation to the alliance brought with it one of the worldwide largest collections of cultural artifacts, which at the same time holds the world’s oldest conservation research institute.


The superordinate tasks of national conservation research have been defined as:

  • Advocating a national “survey” regarding the status quo of research on the conservation of cultural artifacts, definition of research priorities;
  • Lobbying for the creation of a competitive national framework program that will support conservation research;
  • Improving awareness of conservation science in politics and society; and
  • Basic and advanced education for conservation researchers.

Focal Issues

Topics for future research are:

  • The development and validation of damage-free testing methods
  • The decontamination of art and cultural assets tainted by pesticides
  • The further development of plasma technologies for cleaning and conserving art and archived materials
  • The development of concepts for climate control technology and energy efficiency in museums and archives
  • The aging process and durability of materials in art and cultural assets of the 20th century
  • The further development of basic research in the area of preventive conservation
  • The development of new digitalization technologies for inventory and artifact preservation
  • The further development of microscopic, surface topographic, and multispectral authentication methods (illegal art trade, art forgery)
  • The effects of climate change on cultural artifacts
  • The development of modern methods for documentation and preservation of monuments and archaeological sites