“After completing my bachelor’s programme in Cultural Heritage from a university of applied sciences and after several different internships, I still didn’t really know what I wanted. I looked for a master's with a practical approach that still offered theoretical depth. The fact that this was a one-year master's with an international and multidisciplinary character and that it offered the opportunity to do an internship and specialisation appealed to me. The English track student group was more diverse, both in background and nationality, than my Dutch group; that was the only small disappointment. But, ultimately, you meet everyone in the common lectures.
In the first half of the programme, I found out that I'm particularly interested in public education programmes, for example, in museums. I'm interested in art and museums, but I don’t find every museum equally interesting. Sometimes they're just boring. A museum that fascinates me is the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, especially because they present one theme from different perspectives. There's rarely just one story or truth, and as a museum you have to make your visitors aware of that, in my opinion.
In the second half of the master's, I did an internship at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. They had an interesting vacancy for a master's student who could participate in the development of an activity. This was an academic internship, meaning that I had to connect a thesis to the internship.
My job was in the Education and Interpretation department. Together with my internship supervisor, I developed a family game for a large exhibition of Dutch and Belgian design. Different target groups had to be able to play it, ranging from the elderly to a mother with two whining children beside her. My idea for spots for discovery in between, which also appealed to the senses such as feeling, smelling and hearing, was realised. It was an instructive experience to see how many people are directly and indirectly involved in the production of such a game and of course the exhibition itself. Ultimately, more than nine thousand people played the game.
The combination of the internship and thesis was quite intense. I worked three days at the museum, one day I observed at an elementary school, and the rest of the time I worked on my thesis, basically all weekends. Having good supervisors, both at the museum and the university, was helpful. I had never experienced actually collaborating with the internship supervisor at the museum; he gave me interim feedback so that I could adjust and learn. Ultimately, the transition from a university of applied sciences to an academic university was not too difficult; I had prepared myself for a year of hard work.
After I graduated, I was offered a job as junior researcher at Maastricht University. It's a one-year contract and I study the effects of cultural education at Limburg elementary schools. Among other things, I contribute to a quality framework: what are the indicators of quality and how can you measure and apply these to school evaluations? I'm happy I got this great opportunity!
“I want to be creative in my thinking, not falling into patterns. That’s why this environment suits me so well, also with the many different nationalities and cultures.”