Universiteit Leiden

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Pieter ter Keurs new professor of Museums, Collections and Society

The Executive Board has appointed Pieter ter Keurs as professor of Museums, Collections, and Society as of 1 September 2019. The chair will be part of LUCAS (Faculty of Humanities) and is a collaborative effort of the Faculty of Archaeology and the Faculty of Humanities. Ter Keurs has his roots in Leiden’s museum world and until 1 September was in charge of Collections and Research at the National Museum of Antiquities.

Leiden’s unique position

Ter Keurs intends to use his new position to connect knowledge, research and teaching within the domain of collections, heritage and museums in the greater Leiden region: Ter Keurs explains: ‘The situation in Leiden can be regarded as unique. There are few cities where university collections and other national collections (partly originating from the university) are so overwhelming and at the same time are situated within walking distance of one another. Economically speaking, the museums are of great importance, and the collections have tremendous research potential. That potential is already being utilised to an extent, but most museums cannot submit grant proposals to the NWO and therefore have to seek funding elsewhere and undertake alliances with universities. In the current situation, a great deal of research is being conducted by museum staff, as well as by university staff who incorporate the collections into their research projects. The Leiden collections are visited by a large number of foreign researchers, and Leiden University and Leiden as a city for museums have a good international reputation.’

Social issues

The intention is that Leiden’s museums and related organisations, and eventually those of The Hague as well, the faculties mentioned,  along with the Faculty of Science and the University Library, will work together in the area of collection-oriented research (assembling collections, as well as scientific research) and research on the position of museums in society. This includes issues like representation, inclusiveness (diversity), and relations between museums and collections, on the one hand, and political reality on the other.

‘Topics will be discussed that are related to social issues such as restitution and the frequently used term “looted art”. But I’m also going to look at bolstering certain aspects of two of Leiden’s master’s degree programmes: Museums and Collections, in the Art History department, and Heritage and Museum Studies, in Archaeology. The new chair can provide these two tracks with more coherence. For example, we can consider having a “core course” on central concepts in museum studies and cultural studies, so that the MA students in both faculties can be given a common basis.’

The interdisciplinary programme is one of the projects financed with funds made available by the university to stimulate promising research projects. More information can be found on page 35 of the Annual Report 2018.

The photo in the header was taken by photographer Ernst de Groot (LDE).

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