The Rathgen-Forschungslabor is believed to be the oldest museum laboratory in the world. It was founded in 1888 as the Chemistry Laboratory of the Königliche Museen zu Berlin and was later renamed in honour of its first director Friedrich Rathgen, a chemist who specialised in the conservation and analysis of historical objects. As the scientific arm of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Rathgen-Forschungslabor provides support and advice on issues related to conservation, art technology and archaeometry. It offers its services not only to the museums in Berlin but also to institutions and organisations across the globe. The laboratory investigates museum objects and materials of all kinds, and conducts research on the preservation of historical monuments and archaeological sites. As the main point of contact for conservation science at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Rathgen-Forschungslabor is responsible for fundraising and conducting long-term research projects. It also provides services based on its theoretical and methodological expertise to its partners and clients within the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (the body that oversees the Staatliche Museen) and beyond. Thanks to the many competencies at the disposal of the Rathgen-Forschungslabor, the institute has always been well-connected to both national and international research networks. Some noteworthy collaborations include the recently established Archäometrie-Netzwerk Berlin-Brandenburg of the Berliner Antike Kolleg, the Forschungsallianz Kulturerbe (together with the Leibniz-Gesellschaft and the Fraunhofer-Institut), and the Europäische Infrastruktur IPERION-CH (2015-19), which recently received funding to create a permanent research infrastructure as part of the ESFRI Initiative European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS). The Rathgen-Forschungslabor also makes its expertise available to international bodies such as ICOMOS, ICOM-CC and ICCROM.
The Rathgen Research Laboratory was founded on April 1, 1888 as the "Chemical Laboratory of the Royal Museums". Prof. Dr. Friedrich Rathgen (1862-1942) was appointed first director of the institute and stayed there until his retirement almost 40 years later. From 1928 Prof. Dr. Carl Brittner (1883 - 1958) took over the management of the laboratory. The chemical laboratory in the colonnades on the Museum Island is destroyed towards the end of the Second World War, the planned reconstruction after the end of the war does not come about.The reopening of the laboratory as a Rathgen research laboratory at the instigation of the then director-general Prof. Dr. Stephan Waetzoldt is made possible by means of the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk on 1 March 1975. Prof. Dr. Josef Riederer (* 1939) will be appointed to the new director by the Doerner-Institut in Munich. It is mainly devoted to archaeometric studies and dating questions. In 1981, the Rathgen Research Laboratory moved into the premises of Schlossstraße 1A in Berlin-Charlottenburg, where it is still today. The amalgamation of the Rathgen Research Laboratory of the Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz (West) with the Central Workshops of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Ost) to the new Rathgen Research Lab took place on January 1, 1992. After 30 years of management in February 2005, Prof. Dr. Stefan Simon (* 1962), coming from the Getty Conservation Institute, succeeds Josef Riederers as Director of the Rathgen Research Laboratory. A reorientation with a focus on a conservation-oriented service and research profile takes place. In April 2014, Stefan Simon will be appointed to Yale University for five years to build a new conservation institute, the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.Since 2014, Dr. habil. Ina Reiche Directorate of the Rathgen Research Laboratory. After her studies of chemistry and art history at the Freie Universität Berlin at the Research Laboratory of the French National Museums (C2RMF) at the Louvre in Paris, she worked for two years as a research assistant at the Research Institute in Paris before she took a research position at the Research Institute CNRS.
Biocide project Contamination of museum objects through biocides. Development of a strategy to analyse and minimise damage
LED Selection of suitable lighting systems for use in museums
ANOXIA: Researches in efficacy of oxygen reduced atmospheres as an eradication treatment for museum objects against insect pests
Coral trade: Study of Iron Age objects with coral inlays for the determination of the provenance and alteration phenomena
Gisela tresury: Non-invasive analyses of the gold alloys and the precious stones from the Kunstgewerbemuseum by means of synchrotron XRF and portable Raman spectroscopy
IPM - Integrated Pest Management to prevent from pest infestations within collections of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz
ISIMAT: Inkarnat und Signifikanz - Das menschliche Abbild in der Tafelmalerei von 200 bis 1250 im Mittelmeerraum. Untersuchungen der Materialien und Techniken an Objekten der Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
IPERION-CH: Eine integrierte Plattform für die Europäische Kulturerbe-Forschung
• Maria von Geldern: Art-technological study and investigations of the state of preservation of the illuminated manuscript from the Netherlands "Maria von Geldern" of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin