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Training Sharing Stories on Contested Histories

In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Reinwardt Academy jointly organize the international training Sharing Stories on Contested Histories. This training originates from the need to gain more expertise on the engagement with contested heritage and explores approaches and tools available to present contested heritage from multiple perspectives. Sharing Stories on Contested Histories aims to contribute to the international dialogue and practice of navigating complex stories.

Negrofilia. Foto © Michiel van Kempen


When it comes to presenting shared pasts, heritage institutions in the Netherlands have become more and more aware of the need to become more polyvocal, engaging, diverse, (self)reflective and participatory. Inclusive, representative and participatory modes of sharing cultural heritage and the therewith linked histories add relevance to our institutions and society at large. In the Netherlands, this awareness has resulted in an ethical rethink and change on working practices on collecting, designing exhibitions and setting up learning programmes. It is a work-in-progress, however, which highly benefits from exchange of expertise with other countries.

The training is for upcoming museum professionals and academics from the Shared Cultural Heritage partner countries:

South Africa,
Sri Lanka,
United States of America,
the Netherlands.
Set up of the training
The training is case-oriented and practical in approach. Basic literature will be provided in advance. The programme consists of: practice-based lectures, discussions and talks, fieldtrips to museums, workshops and training sessions, self-study based on selected literature.

The programme focuses on three main learning goals:

Both from a practical as well as a theoretical point of view, participants explore the relevancy of contemporary museums. As a strategy to overcome grid-locked discussions and polarised bubbles, constructive and empathic multivocal storytelling is investigated.
Through activity-oriented assignments and workshops participants experience the various concepts of exhibiting, storytelling, tour-guiding and educational programmes and as such get a new and immersed understanding of this way of exploring museum collections and their stories.
Because we are working as professionals amongst professionals there will be a constant flux of exchanging knowledge, ideas and concepts. As such a community of practice for peer-learning and co-creation will arise that is influential, beneficial for all involved and through the use of new media interconnected and sustainable.
To read more about the programme and summary of the edition in 2018 and for more information on the lectures and the readings, please click on the links at the bottom of this page.

Programme and partners
The majority of the two-week training takes place in Amsterdam. Central to Sharing Stories on Contested Histories is the analysis of exhibitions in the case-study museum. Building on their own expertise, supplemented by insights gained from visits to other museums and heritage institutes and professional exchanges and lectures, the participants reflect on the way heritage is presented. Annemarie de Wildt, curator of the Amsterdam Museum, which acted as case-study museum in 2018, blogged about her experiences with the training.

Besides the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the Reinwardt Academy and the Amsterdam Museum, other organisations involved in the training of 2018 were:

Dutch Culture,
National Archives,
Black Archives,
Black History Tours,
Imagine IC,
Tropen Museum,
West Den Haag,
How to participate?
Young heritage professionals and academics from Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and the United States of America are encouraged to contribute to the international dialogue and practice of navigating complex stories by applying for the training. For each training, a total of 22 participants will be invited on the basis of a selection procedure.

The first edition of Sharing Stories on Contested Histories took place in December 2018. The second edition is scheduled for December 1 to 13, 2019. The call for applications for the 2019 training will close on June 15, 2019. The 2020 edition has yet to be scheduled.

Potential participants wishing to apply for the training and museums and heritage institutions looking for ways to be involved in this initiative, are welcome to contact Arjen Kok, Project Leader Sharing Stories on Contested Histories (Cultural Heritage Agency), for further information:

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