Researcher meets Curator

Conference on the trends in scientist biographies and its consequences for curators, archivists and researchers of university and scientific collections.

Organized by the Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage (SAE), Maastricht University, and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Net. Acad. Sc).

Maastricht, 22 March 2019

Crowne Plaza Maastricht
Ruiterij 1, Maastricht

10.00 – 17.00

The conference is free of charge. Registration is mandatory.


The aim of this conference is to create an inventory of these related developments, and explore their consequences for curators, archivists and researchers of university collections alike.

Read more background information


  • 9..30 - 10.30


  • 10.30 - 10.45

    Welcome & introduction

    Frank Meijer, Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage

    Prof. dr. Cyrus Mody
    Maastricht University, Chair in the History of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

  • 10.45 - 11.30


    Prof. Dr. Charles van den Heuvel
    Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Net. Acad. Sc), Head of Department of History of Science and Scholarship.

    Connecting Scholars and Academic Heritage in Networks

  • 11.30 - 12.00

    Ilja Nieuwland (Huygens ING) presents the new and improved Digital Web Centre for the History of Science in the Low Countries. (DWC)

    Hanno Lans, Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage
    Academic heritage on Wikidata. An insight into the world of a “Wikidatan(s) in Residence”

  • 11.45 - 13.00


  • 13.00 - 14.30

    Parallel sessions program

    1 – Network analysis and digital infrastructures

    • Douwe Zeldenrust, Meertens Instituut (Royal Net. Acad. Sc.), Collection Manager
      A life history of a collection, network analysis and the collections of the Meertens Instituut.
    • Jaanika Anderson, University of Tartu Museum, Director of Research
      Prof. Johann Karl Simon Morgenstern (1770-1852): interpreting the life in academic and cultural context
    • Nienke Spaan & Sjors Nab, Utrecht University
      A Network of Portraits: F.C. Donder’s (1818-1889) and P. Harting’s (1812-1885) Carte de Visite Albums

    2 – Researching context: material culture and derivative sources

    • Jamilla Notebaard MA & Dulce da Rocha Gonçalves MA, Utrecht University
      A “biography-oriented” approach to researching art history in academic and public illustrated lectures in the Netherlands
    • Nina Janz, Research Associate at the Luxembourg Center for Digital and Contemporary History (C2DH)
      Walking the line between history and archives – The collection of Emile Peters at the ANLux
    • Susanne Neugebauer, Atria Institute on gender equality and women’s history, Archivist
      The archives of Lizzy van Dorp: Handbags, Boxes, Bindings and Sheets: Digital Archives and their Lost Contexts
  • 14.30 - 15.00


  • 15.00 - 16.45

    1 – Network analysis and digital infrastructures

    • Egon Willighagen, Maastricht University, Assistant professor Bioinformatics
      Visual Biographies of Scholars and the Topics they Studied
    • Hanno Lans, Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage, Wikimedian in Residence
      Dutch scientists in Wikidata
    • Dick Bos, Wikimedia
      Open online bibliography of William Petty (1623-1687)

    2 – Researching context: material culture and derivative sources

    • Ad Maas, Curator Rijksmuseum Boerhaave
      Biographies of modern scientific heritage
    • Simone Vermeeren, MA, Radboud University, PhD candidate
      The private library as a manifestation of the scholarly self-image
    • Laurien de Gelder, Allard Pierson, Junior-Curator Classical World
      The history of a museum collection via biographies
  • 16.45 - 17.15

    Wrap up & closing remarks

  • 17.15 - 18.30


  • Mede mogelijk gemaakt door:




    Het project Wiki-Wetenschappers is tot stand gekomen met steun van Stichting Pica, de organisatie die wetenschappelijke en openbare informatievoorziening bevordert door onder meer het financieren van projecten. Meer informatie over Stichting Pica is te verkrijgen bij de secretaris van Stichting Pica.


As a historical and literary genre, the biography has gone through a metamorphosis over the past decades. Until fairly recently, its usual shape consisted of a chronological narrative, from the cradle to the grave, fixed mostly on a more or less autonomous development of the person being described. That has changed significantly: not only is the strict adherence to chronology no longer a given, biographies increasingly focus on a particular aspect of a person’s life. Alternatively, historians seek to investigate someone’s life as part of a wider historical question, be it cultural, economic, or social. And finally, the very term “biography” is often being used in a much broader sense: we see biographies not only of people, but also of objects, geographical features, and even events.

Meanwhile, the digital revolution has radically changed the nature of the information that researchers are interested in. This has had some repercussions for the way in which researchers, archivists, and curators interact. Research questions have become less unified and predictable, and have put new demands upon the way in which collections and archives are organized. As a consequence, the interaction between those that control objects and information, and those that seek to query it, has changed significantly.