TU Delft Library

Living Book Joris Dik

"Crossing borders"

I just photographed my coffee mug. As you can see it’s been used for a while and the print on the outside is starting to fade. “You are Leaving the American Sector” was the ultimate, final warning sign when crossing the border from West to East Berlin during the Cold War.

Having grown up in Germany in the 1980’s, it is to me a very powerful border symbol. The Berlin Wall is now long gone, but I keep being confronted with all sorts of borders in my life. Borders in culture, nationality, language and discipline.

I was trained as an art historian and only later on got a PhD in chemistry. Currently, I am heading a research group at TU Delft in ‘materials in art and archaeology’. We work at the interface of the humanities and the sciences, which are usually sharply divided fields of research. Bridging these two worlds is a challenging, but rewarding experience, especially when our technology enables the discovery of new paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt.

On a more personal level, borders run through my private life. I am married to Einat, an Israeli dentist. We have two kids and their four grandparents are Lithuanian, Yemenite, German and Dutch, respectively. Raising our kids across such cultural borders is difficult at times, but connecting our diversity truly enriches my life.

Crossing borders can make me feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and sometimes a little unsafe. But at the same time, my coffee mug reminds me that borders are only man-made, and not God-given. Leaving the safety of the American Sector is an adventurous, fun, challenging part of life, which keeps offering me steep learning curves.

About Joris Dik

Joris Dik (*1974, Amsterdam) received his secondary education in Aachen, Germany, Den Bosch and The Hague, the Netherlands. He studied art history and classical archaeology at the University of Amsterdam and received his M.A. in 1997. In ‘95/’96 he was a Getty Graduate Intern at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. After returning to the Netherlands, he worked on a Ph.D in chemistry, graduating in early 2003. Joris Dik currently serves as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor, specialized on the materials science of art and archaeological obejcts. He is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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