Working in the cultural field after graduation

Written by Manique Hendricks

In september 2017 I graduated from the MA Museumconservator, now Curating Arts and Cultures at the VU/UvA. During my masters I worked at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam as a curator in training for a whole year as part of the programme. At the Stedelijk I conducted research on the collection as part of the project ‘collectie waardering’ and I worked on the extensive exhibition Ed van der Elsken – Camera in Love together with the curator of Photography. While graduating I joined Cinekid to work on the MediaLab (an interactive media art exhibition with workshops for kids) with the head of Digital Culture as an assistant curator. After Cinekid, at the end of 2017 I was struggling to find vacancies for junior curators/starting positions. Out of necessity I started freelancing within the cultural field, taking a first freelance job as the coordinator of art festival ‘Haarlemse Lente’. In 2018 I started working two days a week at media art institute LIMA, taking on all communication- and some production tasks.

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Ed van der Elsken – Camera in Love, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2017. Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.

Working as a freelance art historian/curator/writer/researcher in the past two years I have learned that taking initiative and collaborating are key to create new opportunities. I joined nomadic artist initiative/art platform Sugar Pop Institute, emailed artists I wanted to work with for coffee dates and wrote several proposals and funding applications. This resulted into the making of three exhibitions in 2019; 1) All good music comes from an open mind: 36 jaar Club Stalker, an archival exhibition about the oldest nightclub in the Netherlands, 2) Untouched Intimacies, a group show about technology and intimacy at NEVERNEVERLAND and 3) ART FWRD: On technology: a group exhibition at VondelCS with the opening during museumnight. In addition I also worked at 37PK in the weekends, at Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen for a year and I was responsible for the publicity of GOLF-festival, hustling my way to financial stability and more projects and opportunities. Since the 1st of April 2020, I am working as a junior conservator at LIMA thanks to a grant (Open Oproep Beurs Erfgoedtalent) from the Mondrian Fund.

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Untouched Intimacies, NEVERNEVERLAND, 2019.

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All good music comes from an open mind: 36 jaar Club Stalker, 37PK, Platform voor Kunsten 2019. Photo: Stefan Groenendijk.

Studying Museumconservator (now: Curating Art and Cultures) at the Vrije Universiteit & University of Amsterdam allowed me to have the unique experience of working on an exhibition in a museum for an entire year, starting with research and going through the archives to building up the exhibition, the opening and even curating a small programme for the finissage. During my masters I not only gained experience; my love for making exhibitions, working with artists and writing grew even bigger.

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