Julie Ward – a member of the European Parliament – had an interesting and informative day, hands-on as an intern at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, The Netherlands.
She had an introduction to the museum and its collections by the artistic director. Then she got to stand at the information counter, answering questions from visitors, and did a stint working in the museum shop. Later, she made a condition report in the museum's depositary, before meeting members of the museum's youth department. At the end of her day, Julie helped the security staff on their walk through the museum.
In May 2018, she was the first politician to enrol in a new "political internship programme" introduced by NEMO – the Network of European Museum Organisations, which is the umbrella organisation for all the national museum organisations. The programme is intended to help the museum sector get closer to politicians by offering them a unique and engaging experience – to actually work in a museum for a day.
Reported in Attractions Management's
Issue 2, 2019, a number of politicians have followed in Julie Ward's footsteps: Luca Jahier, president of the European Economic and Social Forum, and Dutch culture minister Ingrid Katharina van Engelshoven were next; politicians from Finland, Belgium and Germany have also engaged with the programme.
The idea is to build sustainable relationships with politicians, says NEMO secretary general Julia Pagel, giving the politicians a better understanding of the museum sector, which hopefully translates to more favourable decisions by the decision-makers.
"Many politicians ask themselves why museums don't have more communication activities or bring more people into the museum, while not recognising the whole machine that runs it," said Pagel.
"They're still perceived as places where you invest a lot of money and there's no return. We want them to see how the people in the museum work and that they need to be skilled and need more money for the work that they're doing."
A good deal of vetting of the politician is undertaken before they are invited onto the internship programme. Pagel says NEMO looks at the politician's interests and biography and identifies how that individual can help the museum sector. Then they are paired with a suitable museum.
Her message is that every museum organisation or association can start such a scheme, handpicking the museums and politicians they want to target. "It's so direct with the politician, that it's perfectly transferable and always has a tangible outcome."
To read the full article, see issue 2 2019 of Attractions Management here