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Acting volunteer director of the OorlogsVerzetsMuseum Rotterdam (Rotterdam Museum of War and Resistance)
From May 1st first 2004 till May 1st 2006


Main points, the museum, what was the goal, what did we do, what is achieved?

Main points : volunteers and visitors
Volunteers and visitors are the most important. The volunteers, because without them the museum could not exist. We try to use their drive, loyalty, and talents by taking them very seriously. Thanks to that there is a lot of enthusiasm and there are new volunteers..
The importance of the visitor is obvious. We tried in many ways to involve them in the museum work. The involved visitor is our aim..

The museum (http://www.ovmrotterdam.nl/)
The OorlogsVerzetsMuseum Rotterdam is a small museum almost completely run by volunteers.. In the beginning of the year 2004 we had about 25 volunteers and 1 paid staff member: an educator for three days a week.
The volunteers work on secretarial / office tasks, as guides, as hosts and hostesses, in the library of the museum, as caretaker, graphic designer, on the collection of photos.
In the year 2003 there came ca 2500 visitors to the museum, of which 35 % schoolchildren.
The museum is located in Katendrecht (out of the city centre), which is a disadvantage.
It was difficult to find new volunteers and the museum was not well known in the city and the region.

What was the goal?
The board of the museum wanted to "put the museum on the map" and at the same time to show the public and the politicians that the museum is a necessary institution.

What did we do?
. We organised a lot of activities, unexpected and creative ones, with an emphasis on ordinary human life during the war (personal memories, wartime recepies, weddings during the war, "my father was a Canadian", the "forgotten bombardment", music, celebrations when the war ended etc.)
. a variety of temporary exhibitions: on the famous sculpture by Ossip Zadkine, human dilemmas as pictured in graphic novels about the war, destroyed monumental buildings, war in Russia, music during wartime
. around the exhibitions we organised a great number of special activities, such as documentaries, lectures, discussions, exchange of memories and not just an opening of the exhibitions but a closing event as well..
. always live music at the opening of exhibitions
. frequent contacts with the press, by regular press announcements, e-mail newsletters and personal contacts
. every year at the 4th of May a modest remembrance in the museum, where schoolchildren read names of deported Jewish citizens from Rotterdam
. a few publications: an English translation of a short story and a special small "graphic novel" about the beginning of the war in may 1940 in Rotterdam by a well known artist Eric Heuvel: . . good contacts with the quarter of the city where the museum is situated, for example with the local "kids news agency" that regularly came to the museum for TV-recordings
. educational programs connected with temporary exhibition in which past and present are brought together
. we organised special afternoons for parents and grandparents of schoolchildren who visited the museum with their classmates.

What is achieved?
With all these activities, with some creativity, endurance but most of all with imagination we achieved a lot in two years time:
. a lively, accessible and a better known museum
. a good atmosphere, both internally and externally
. more appreciation by the volunteers, the visitors and the press
. more visitors (2003: 2500, 2005: more than 4600, 2006 probably again more)
. more volunteers (ten new, not just elderly and also for professional tasks like registration work on the collections and research).

This was only possible thanks to the drive and enthusiasm of the volunteers and the support of many colleagues and others who were immaterial sponsors..