Casus Volunteers voor Europa Nostra

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Afgelopen week vond het European Heritage Congress 2011 van Europa Nostra plaats; dit maal in Amsterdam. Europa Nostra is de ‘voice of cultural heritage in Europe’, het Europese netwerkvereniging voor erfgoedorganisaties, met name op het terrein van monumenten, archeologie en landschappen. Ons museum is vanzelfsprekend lid van deze invloedrijke organisatie, die sedert vorig jaar wordt voorgezeten door de bekende operazanger Placido Domingo. In de aanloop van het congres bezochten leden van het bestuur ons museum.

Het thema van het forum van dit succesvolle congres, dat afgelopen vrijdag in Felix Meritis plaats vond, was ‘Volunteers: added value for European heritage’. Wij zijn bijzonder verheugd, dat ons museum, dat volledig gedragen wordt door een enthousiast vrijwilligersteam, opgenomen is als één van de casussen van dit forum. Belangrijk, omdat hiermee erkenning van ons Vinckenteam plaatsvindt, ook vanuit sociaal-maatschappelijk oogpunt: ‘community’. Hieronder treft u de beschrijving.

Zie ook: Europa Nostra

Case study Volunteers

The Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis is a private grand canal-mansion dating back to 1687. Together with its lush secluded garden, its living rooms celebrate a hidden wealth of historic design. It is located on the most prestigious part of the Herengracht within the Amsterdam Canal District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once home of one of the richest oligarch families of the Republic, the private museum focuses on urban lifestyle at home in the living room, today and in the past; especially in the period between the Dutch Golden Age and the era of industrialization. Within this focus, there are four recurring themes: chamber music, city garden, heritage food and cultural dialogue. In 2010, the museum received over 31.000 visitors.

Twenty years ago, the museum was established by the Buisman-family, after having thoroughly restored the main building and its former coach house. About ten years ago, a first start was made for developing a volunteer team for welcoming the visitors. Six years ago, a volunteer co-ordinator, Mrs Mary Kuijer, was attracted and since the team has grown to about 60 volunteers. Last year, Mrs Kuijer received the biannual Gerard Evers Award from the Association of Friends of Museums for her effort.

Today, the museum, with a small professional staff working on a shoestring budget, would not have sustained without its team of volunteers. Not only the volunteers host and guide the visitors 6 days per week the whole year through. In addition, volunteers do all the gardening, perform nearly all preparations and part of the research for our exhibitions, and organise the weekly chamber music concerts. Next month (25th June – 3rd July), we will have our first musical festival focussed on the square piano (16 concerts, two competitions and a discussion forum), which is also mainly organised by volunteers. The volunteer team is coordinated by two volunteers, while the team of the garden volunteers and the team of the volunteers for research and preparations of exhibitions are separately co-ordinated, each by a volunteer with a professional background. It is our intention to have the team grown to about 100 volunteers by the end of 2012, because in 2013 – the Year of the Amsterdam Canals – the museum will be open 7 days a week to be able cope with the expected increased flow of visitors.

The team of volunteers consists mainly of women of the age group of over 50 years. They are from all layers of the Amsterdam society. In addition, there are several members of the team, who have a social disadvantaged background or who were at risk of social exclusion (jobless, aged, lost partner a.o.); through their involvement in our volunteer team, they are given the possibility to integrate into our museum volunteer community and perform useful and responsible tasks. For quite a significant part of the team, our museum has, in a certain way, become their home and circle of friends. The team is very loyal and there is not much drop-out.

Except for a small travel cost reimbursement, no remuneration is given for volunteer work. However, the team does organise two or three times a year an event, such as a New Year Party or a trip to another museum, which is paid by the tips collected from visitors for the free guided tour through the house. The museum does not receive any government or municipal subsidies, nor any other funding.