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Young alumni take a look behind the scenes at the National Museum

The Young Alumni Network (YAN) organised a working visit to the National Museum in Amsterdam on Thursday 5 July. Alumni were able to take a look behind the scenes at the Museum and the excursion ended with an exclusive tour.

45 young alumni from very diverse backgrounds set off for  Amsterdam to visit the National Museum, which, before its renovation, had had an image problem. The main mission of the renovation was to make the museum 'an enclosed space with an open image'.  The result fits the bill perfectly: a beautifully decorated building that brings together different styles, a changing collection with works by many Dutch masters and, of course, the imposing Night Watch is a 'must'.   

In people's hearts

It was the task of Hendrikje Crebolder, director of Media and Development at the museum and a Leiden alumna, to address this image problem. Having studied Law at Leiden University and worked in the legal profession in the corporate world, she ultimately found her way to the National Museum. 'My mission is to get the museum back into people's hearts.' Stressing public development has made it possible to bind people to the museum and to enter into a long-term relationship with them.  

'The Night Watch' by Rembrandt van Rijn
'The Night Watch' by Rembrandt van Rijn

Just a letter

How did you get to work at the National Museum? Do you need to graduate with distinction or be part of an important network? 'Well, you can just try writing a letter,' Sara van Dijk says. Sara obtained her PhD in Leiden on 'women's clothing in the portraits of Leonardo da Vinci' and currently works as a textile curator. 'If you see your dream job come up, go for it and write a letter.' She is currently working on the collection of linen damask. All the material has to be photographed for online publication. 'There's going to be a new depot where every object has an individual photo. That's an enormous job.' 

The art of science

With a work of art, it's mainly been about looking at what it portrays and what it means for the viewer, but today people also look at the materials and their influence on the artworks. 'Paintings used to be made from a different material than today. What does that mean for the artwork? asks conservational scientist Robert van Langh. By examining the materials, you can make your own analyses, for instance about the measures that can be taken against deterioration. Seeing exactly what art objects are made from is a specific line of work, something a number of different universities are currently involved in. It's an area that brings together both arts and science experts.

Alumni viewing 'The Rapenburg in Leiden three days after the explosion of the gunpowder ship on 12 January 1807' by Johannes Jelgerhuis
Alumni viewing 'The Rapenburg in Leiden three days after the explosion of the gunpowder ship on 12 January 1807' by Johannes Jelgerhuis

New approach

The YAN regularly organises different activities for young alumni, often in the form of lectures and workshops. This type of event, a working visit, was new and proved to be an immediate success: it was 'sold out' in no time. Jelte Liemburg from the Alumni Office: 'The combination of a visit to a special place like the National Museum and a look behind the scenes really appeals to the imagination.'The YAN intends to organise more excursions like these in future. This time there were mainly presentations about the work activities, and at the next working visit the idea is to take a look at the place where the work goes on. 'That will add an extra dimension to the visit.'   

Text: Daniƫlle de Zwart
Main photo: John Lewis Marshall/Het Rijksmuseum
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Young Alumni Network (YAN)

The Young Alumni Network is specially for young alumni (up to 35 years old). Networking, career and personal development and also having fun are what the Network stands for. It offers alumni the opportunity to come into contact with other young alumni and exchange experiences, but also to develop new skills and to work actively on your career. 

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