Steven Engelsman knighted

Former director named Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau

On Friday, 30 November 2012, Dr. Steven Engelsman was named Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. He was presented with the Royal distinction personally by Henri Lenferink, Mayor of Leiden, at the National Museum of Ethnology, where he served for twenty years as the managing director until last April. Engelsman received his distinction in part for his special role in establishing and fostering cooperative ties for the exchange of knowledge between international museums.

Enthusiastic Director

In 1990, Engelsman, then assistant director of Museum Boerhaave, was asked to become the managing director of the National Museum of Ethnology. He jumped in with both feet, handling the challenge beautifully. He led a thorough renovation and completely re-arranged the museum. The National Museum of Ethnology grew under his leadership to become a world player on the museum stage. During his career at the National Museum of Ethnology, Engelsman achieved great successes, including the hit exhibition MAORI; a project that was not just about the Maori but that was created together in collaboration with the Maori. This concept of not about them without them has by now become a guiding theme in the outreach and research activities of the National Museum of Ethnology. In April 2012, Engelsman made the move to the Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna, where he has been the director since then.

Strategic Bridge Builder

Engelsman is known in the museum world as an involved, strategic networker. He was the (co)founder of the Museum Group Leiden and the Stichting Volkenkundige Collectie Nederland [Dutch Ethnographic Collection Foundation] (SVCN). Connecting the European Ethnographic Museums, he helped create the Ethnographic European Museum Directors Group (EEMDG) and its offshoot, the Réseau International des Musées d'Ethnographie (RIME). His role as catalyst and instigator in setting up the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS) and the Virtual Collection of Masterpieces (VCM) rendered intensive international cooperation, digital as well as physical, possible. He was also extraordinarily active in the Vereniging Rijksgesubsidieerde Musea [Association of Nationally Subsidised Museums] (VRM) and the Nederlandse Museum Vereniging [Netherlands Museum Association] (NMV).

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