Project Factsheets

Provenance research : Provenance research (RMCA)
Metis-Resolution: Metis-Resolution - phase 2 (ARA-AGR)
BopCo-Ce: Barcoding Facility for Organisms and Tissues of Policy Concern - Centre of Excellence (RBINS - RMCA)
Hydrogen Test Facility for scientific and applied research (VKI)

Provenance research

  • Budget: 2.320.000 €
  • Period: 2021-2024
  • Executor: Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA)
  • Contact: Els Cornelissen (RMCA)


The social and political debate surrounding the restitution of cultural heritage acquired during the colonial period has intensified over the past few years, both on an international and a European level. The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) participates in this international debate as a social actor and as manager of the Belgian State patrimony of collections from the countries colonised by Belgium (DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi), as well as collections collected in other countries in West, South, East and Central Africa.

The RMCA currently manages 128.500 ethnographic objects and musical instruments, of which approximately 85.000 objects from Central Africa. Most of the collection came about through donations, missionaries, civil servants, soldiers and scientific missions. Especially in the Congo Free State period - from 1885 to 1908 - objects were acquired by force or plunder. In the period of the Belgian Congo from 1908 onwards, objects were collected in a context of unequal relations between the colonised and the coloniser. Only a small portion was purchased.

Although the RMCA has well-documented archives on where and by whom a particular object was acquired, there is often little information available on the exact manner of its acquisition (gift, purchase, 'under slight force'). Thorough provenance research into how the 85.000 objects acquired by the RMCA were acquired is essential.


Metis-Resolution - phase 2


On 29 March 2018, the Chambre of Representatives unanimously approved the resolution "on the segregation suffered by metis of Belgian colonial origin in Africa". Article 6 of this Metis-Resolution called for "a detailed historical investigation into the role of civil and ecclesiastical authorities in the treatment of the metis during the colonial period in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi", with the importance of making the necessary budgetary, material and human resources available to the General State Archives (ARA-AGR) in order to achieve the objectives pursued in the Resolution.

The "Metis-Resolution" research project, carried out in accordance with the wishes of the Resolution, is divided into two phases, which correspond respectively to Articles 6 and 7 of the Resolution.

Phase 1 - which corresponds to Article 7 of the Resolution - was the subject of a cooperation agreement between the FPS Foreign Affairs and the State Archives. In this first phase, all personal files of the metis were inventoried and correlations between these files were made. The transfer of the 'African archives' from the FPS Foreign Affairs to the ARA-AGR is currently underway.

The present research project concerns phase 2 of the research, which corresponds to Article 6 of the Resolution, in which a detailed historical investigation is conducted into the role of the civil and church authorities in the treatment of the metis during the colonial period in Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi.


Barcoding Facility for Organisms and Tissues of Policy Concern - Centre of Excellence

  • Budget: 385.000 €
  • Periode: 2021-2023
  • Executors:
    • Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)
    • Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA)
  • Contact: Thierry Backeljau (RBINS) - Marc De Meyer (RMCA)


The Barcoding Facility for Organisms and Tissues of Policy Concern (BopCo) is a joint initiative of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) for the identification of policy-relevant biological samples.

BopCo converts taxonomic expertise and DNA know-how into concrete, socially useful results. BopCo currently performs species identifications at the request of a wide range of Belgian and foreign stakeholders, including federal, regional and local governments and agencies, research institutions, NGOs, associations, private companies and individuals.

The aim of the project is a feasibility study for the establishment of a centre of excellence whose tasks are (1) to serve as a national focal point for the identification of biological material on demand, using both morphological and DNA-based techniques, (2) to produce well-documented DNA barcodes of relevant taxa, (3) to maintain reference collections of barcoded organisms and the corresponding DNA barcode databases, and (4) to research and apply new tools and techniques for species identification and DNA barcoding.


Hydrogen Test Facility for scientific and applied research

  • Budget: 16.200.000 € - Restart and Transition Plan (RTP)
  • Period: 2022-2024
  • Executor: The von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI)
  • Contact: Peter Simkens (VKI)


This project carried out by the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) is one of the priorities of the Federal Science Policy to strengthen the federal research infrastructure. Moreover, this project, which is part of the "Federal Hydrogen Vision and Strategy" presented by the Minister of Energy to the Council of Ministers on 29 October 2021, is also of strategic importance for the FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy.

The aim of the project is to develop a generic infrastructure at a new location that can house the various facilities needed to carry out large-scale experimental tests with hydrogen technologies. The facility should host applied experiments covering the whole value chain of the hydrogen economy, with a particular focus on what falls under federal competence (in the area of hydrogen production, transport and storage, hydrogen applications in mobility and electricity generation, and plant safety).