15 questions with Ruud Vertegaal

Imagine being limited to what was available 400 years ago. Do you think you could do your job that way? For Ruud Vertegaal, one of our researchers in woodcare, that’s the challenge Operation Night Watch brings to his usual work at AkzoNobel.

The experts behind Operation Night Watch are hard at work discovering everything they can about Rembrandt’s most famous painting and what applications there might be to our modern life. Meet Ruud Vertegaal, a researcher in woodcare at AkzoNobel.


1. Describe yourself in three words.

Open minded, inquisitive and helpful.

2. What’s your favorite color and why?

Yellow, no specific reason.

3. When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Riding a motorcycle with friends, photography, reading and watching series.

4. Tell us one thing you’re excited for in 2021.

Living without coronavirus.

5. What’s your most prized possession?

Freedom, everybody should have it.

6. How would you describe Operation Night Watch in one word?


7. What’s your role on the Operation Night Watch team and how does it compare to the “usual” work you do? 

The part I help with is very close to my normal work, however limiting ourselves to working with paint ingredients Rembrandt could have used makes it extra challenging.

8. What do you enjoy most about your job?

When the paint you developed is put in the can for the first time. 

9. The partnership between AkzoNobel and the Rijksmuseum combines two different perspectives on paint and color – why do you think the partnership really works?

It’s a mix of everything: historical perspectives, optical properties, material science and craftsmanship. Combined as a team, we have it all.

10. Which character, detail or aspect of The Night Watch interests you the most?

How detailed it is, and the size.

11. In your opinion, what would Rembrandt think of Operation Night Watch? 

He probably would have said: “I can make you a new one, a better one.”

12. If you were given a chance to time travel, when would you go and why?

To the beginning of time, to find out how it started and if there is an end to the universe.

13. What is one thing you’d prefer to never do again?

Choosing Analytical Chemistry as a study. For me, making stuff is so much more fun than analyzing it.

14. What motivates you the most?

Working with smart people and solving “problems”.

15. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups.


How do you go about restoring one of the world’s most famous paintings?

We asked some of the experts involved in Operation Night Watch to explain what will happen now our historic partnership with the Rijksmuseum is underway.

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