About us

The Institute

The Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA), founded in 1951, is a competence centre for art scholarship and art technology with both a national and an international focus. Its primary activities are research, documentation, dissemination of knowledge and services in the field of fine art. Its core speciality is the production of art in Switzerland from the Middle Ages to the present day.

SIK-ISEA’s headquarters in Zurich have been housed since 1993 in Villa Bleuler, a listed monument built in 1888.

Since 1988 the Institute has maintained a presence in French-speaking Switzerland in the form of its «Antenne romande», based at the University of Lausanne.

Since 2010 the Institute has a contact point for Italian-speaking Switzerland, which is present in the Museo d'arte della Svizzera italiana in Lugano since 2020.

A meeting in the Art Technology Department at SIK-ISEA.

Technological analyses conducted for the research project into Ferdinand Hodler

General Assembly of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) held at SIK-ISEA’s headquarters in Zurich (2013).

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation, SIK-ISEA enjoys the status of an independent research establishment. SIK-ISEA is financed in part by substantial funds from the Swiss Confederation, the Canton and City of Zurich and other cantons. Equally important are competitive research grants, income from the provision of services, and donations from benefactors and other foundations. The Association for the Promotion of SIK-ISEA offers both financial and intangible support.

The Institute’s headquarters are in Zurich at Villa Bleuler, built in 1885–1888 to plans by Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli. Since 1988 SIK-ISEA has maintained a satellite in francophone Switzerland, its «Antenne romande» at Lausanne University. For the Italian-speaking region, the Institute opened an «Ufficio di contatto» in 2010 at the Museo Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto, which is located in the Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana in Lugano since 2020.

Through its research, SIK-ISEA fosters fruitful exchange with universities, universities of applied sciences, museums and eminent specialists. It belongs to the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS) and the Swiss National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM Switzerland) and it is a founding member of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA).

Organisation chart [in German]
Image leaflet

Film Tour: Roger Fayet portrays the Institute and talks about the particular demands on SIK-ISEA’s skilled employees (made for the portal sciences-arts.ch at the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences).