ICCROM Register of Heritage Samples Archives
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KIK-IRPA Synthetic Organic Pigments Reference Collection

Type Collection

Date of creation of the archive


Date of closure of the archive


Creator(s) of the archive

KIK-IRPA Painting Lab

Summary Description

The story of synthetic organic pigments begins in the 19th century when chemists started exploring ways to create vibrant colours through chemical synthesis rather than relying solely on natural sources like minerals and plants. Artists embraced synthetic organic pigments for their intense hues and broader range of available shades. These pigments are used in various artistic mediums, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, pencil, but also in pencil, print and plastic. KIK-IRPA has established an extensive collection of synthetic organic pigments (SOPs) to be used as reference materials for heritage science. A good part of the collection comes directly from the pigment and paint manufacturers, another part was compiled from other renowned collections (GCI, TU Dresden, RCE, Doerner Institut, etc.).


Type and number of units

Object type

Reference material

Material type

Organic synthethic material

Geographic Distribution


Statement of Significance

Since their invention about 150 years ago, hundreds of different synthetic organic pigments (SOPs) have been synthesized and used in paintings, sculptures, plastics, etc. OPs remain understudied in comparison with more traditional pigments, while generally more prone to degradation, leading to conservation problems. Additionally, SOPs are often crucial markers in authentication studies, because their invention and use is well documented. To make a correct identification of a SOP, broad, well curated and reliable collections of SOPs and analytical data vital. KIK-IRPAs SOP collection is widely acknowledged through the SOPRANO initiative.


Yes - upon request

Access requirements

Depending on the amount of the requested sample available in the collection, small aliquods can be requested for scientific purposes.

Type of users



Reference collection

Finding aids

Indirectly through soprano.kikirpa.be

External link