Where I'm @

From Photographer to Rijksmuseum Educator

Merel Brugman
Tue 5 Feb
Function Educator Rijksmuseum
Year 2012
Major Photography

What is your occupation now?

For the last few days now I am a teacher and Head of the Photography Department at Technova College. In January 2019 I will start my new job as a museum educator at Rijksmuseum. On the day of my certification at the WdKA, director of my old MBO Photography programme invited me to join his team as a teacher. Not the first thing I thought about when I graduated, but I do like a challenge. I had accepted this challenge, even though I had no teaching experience. In the end, this turned out to be a very good move. Teaching went well and I was able to stimulate the experiences of the students with my knowledge gained at the Academy. After a while of teaching and after gaining my pedagogical competence, I started to rewrite the photography programme together with a colleague. Gradually, a training emerged that suited the needs of the business community better. By means of projects - among other things - I have prepared my students as well as possible for the profession. In 2016 I was nationally elected as Teacher of the Year for MBO (Secondary Vocational Education). This title had opened many doors for me, including the doors of the Rijksmuseum. When I was offered the opportunity to start there, a new adventure has begun.

Merel Brugman, Tutor of the Year Nominee (this video is in Dutch)

What expertise/skills did you gain at WdKA?

Something that I still find very useful: seeing assignments and problems as possibilities and solutions. I had used this approach extensively, especially during the period when I started teaching.
During my academy time, I have worked on becoming broadly oriented. Because I already had a prior education in photography, I have immersed myself in a number of other subjects. In my third year, I had applied for an internship at the FOAM after following the gallery and curatorial practice minor at academy's gallery Blaak10. I prefer to learn by doing. This internship helped me to develop further - I have found out that I do not necessarily have to work behind the camera, and that project-based work also suits me well.

Favourite WdKA memory?

The Heldenavond! The Hero Night! A simple and good concept. Very nice to listen to inspiring people. Famous artists were invited for these evenings. They showed us their work. They told not only where they got inspiration but also what had gone wrong.

Heldenavonden (2007-2013)

The Hero Night was a long-term initiative of the Willem de Kooning Academy. This platform invited heroes in visual art, graphic design, multimedia design, interior design and fashion design for an evening of conversations and discussions. The events were organised by the students who followed Hero Night's Minor.

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

Photography as a profession is changing a lot. I notice this through my students. A lot is being arranged through Instagram: internships, make-up artists, models, assignments. Nearly everything happens online. Besides photography knowledge, I try to provide my students with the skills they need now. Society is changing rapidly from industrial to knowledge and network society through technology and digitization. Young people need 21st-century skills to be prepared for this new different world.

Young people need 21st-century skills to be prepared for the new different world.

You never leave your house without ...?

A glance that not only looks but also sees. And my glasses of course.

Any words or advice to the students?

Do not be distracted by all the talent around you. Remain yourself. During my academy time, I always liked to meet students from other departments. Interacting with people who do something (or totally) different is refreshing. This inspires me. My reading tip in this connection: Brilliant Misses by Erik Kessels. This book is about having the courage to fail. And being inspired by mistakes instead of regretting them.

Name your favourite recent project.

I have multiple favourites. In collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, I have developed a minor for MBO students. Creativity and craftsmanship are central to this minor. Both at the educational institution and in the museum, the students work towards their final assignment: making a museum design. This museum design can be anything:  an exhibition, a multimedia product, a tour or a marketing plan.

Het lerarenfeest

Another favourite is ‘Het lerarenfeest’, the Teachers' Party. An event that was held in the Rijksmuseum and where my students took photos of the visiting teachers in a suitable style. This project was organised by the students themselves. As a teacher, I can clearly see whether they are ready for professional practice.

Your plans and dreams for the future?

In January 2019 I will start my new job in the education department at the Rijksmuseum. There I will work on the development of educational programmes. With my knowledge gained at the art academy, I have embarked on the educational adventure and now, with my knowledge gained at the MBO (Secondary Vocational Education), I am going to face my new Art Adventure. Looks like it is meant to be...

Rijksmuseum - 2014 - John Lewis Marshall

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