Museum marketing of Museum De Bastei
Challenge of a new director in Corona time

Interview by Mirthe Smeets

In this interview, brand new director Hans Hooijmaijers talks about how he ended up at Museum De Bastei in Nijmegen and about the challenges during Corona times.

Hans Hooijmaijers directeur museum De Bastei

Hans, you have been working at De Bastei for 5 months now. How do you like it?
'It's going well, although it's a shame that the dynamics are different now due to corona. There are no visitors in the museum and everyone works from home. Our team consists of approximately 10 FTE people and we want to create that feeling of solidarity. We do this with online meetings. The volunteers involved in the museum often provide practical components and must be physically present in the museum. So you hardly see them now. I always try to keep them informed by sending updates about what is going on and what we are planning.'

'When I came to De Bastei for the first time, I was immediately sold'

Have you had to cancel any great live projects?
'Three days before lockdown started, we opened the exhibition 'The art of defense'. The exhibition examines the historical importance and background of De Bastei: ''What was that Bastei? What was De Bastei for? What could you do with it? Why is it no longer there, or just a piece of it?” Unfortunately, that exhibition is now waiting for visitors... It is a beautiful, sustainable exhibition that we will continue to use in the permanent presentation afterwards.'

Which online projects does De Bastei currently offer?
'We are developing an online city walk for children and an online climate lesson. Unfortunately we are still closed at Easter. We keep our fingers crossed that we will be allowed to open (to a limited extent) during the May holidays and if that is not the case... then we have the online walks ready. Of course we will actively offer this.' 

 

'It would be great if De Bastei had regional and national fame in 5 years'

De Bastei expositie

How are you present on Social Media?
'Of course you are not allowed to organize anything where people come together live. This means we are limited in our options. That is why we are very present on Social Media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter... There we post, for example, The Animal Of The Month. You want to remain visible, but you also don't want to just send things out into the world. We think carefully about posts so that we don't overwhelm people with information. The Bastei must remain interesting to follow.

We also show the sustainable side of the museum on these platforms, such as campaigns where we motivate residents to remove their stones and transform their gardens into green gardens. Forest ranger Tim, Nijmegen resident of the year, is one of the ambassadors of Operation Steenbreek. It pays attention to the first stones out, green in. Posts about this generate a lot of traffic!'

 

'I really like the projects, because I also live 'green' myself.
I have LED lights in my house, I live in a sustainable neighborhood, I have solar panels on the roof [...]'

De Bastei aan de Waalkade Nijmegen Bastei - herzien droneshots-11

Are you personally concerned with the environment a lot?
'Of course. I really like the projects, because I also live 'green' myself. I have LED lights in my house, live in a sustainable neighborhood, and have solar panels on the roof. I live in a well-insulated house with good rainwater drainage on a wadi and of course a rain barrel. When the rainwater flows into our courtyard, it goes towards the middle. If it rains very hard, it becomes a pond. The water will recede within a few days.' 

How did you get into the museum world?
'After studying Physics in Nijmegen, I conducted research at various universities. That was nice to do, but after a while I missed social interaction. That's why I started teaching Physics at a school, at all levels. At that time I moved near Leiden. There I visited Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, with study friends. The museum focuses on science and medicine. The contents of the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave made an impression. I thought out loud and said: well, it would be nice if I could work here!  

A year later, a vacancy became available as curator of physics and astronomy at this Leiden museum. I tried and sure enough, I got the job. For the first eight years of my career there, I was involved in the field of General Natural Sciences, the collection and exhibitions.  

I started by setting up a room for the ANW subject (that subject had just started at the time - 1999 - and has now been removed from the curriculum again). I created a 2.5-hour educational program that concluded with a presentation about something technical or scientific. This was very successful. ANW teachers liked to come to Boerhaave with students to teach the subject. 

I also created exhibitions. About what? About the light, clocks, the weather or food. I placed a set table from Paleis Het Loo, for a cultural-historical approach, but also showed old-fashioned and modern ways of preserving food.' 

 

'Hans Hooijmaijers about De Bastei: “this is a dream place!”

That sounds like a dream job. Why did you switch to De Bastei?

'After eight years I became head of Collections. That's how I ended up in management. I did that job for over 12 years. Fortunately, I was still able to occasionally write about collection items, articles and books and give presentations.

In 2016, a major renovation started at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave. I took care of the construction pieces and new furnishings. The result is a beautifully renovated museum, with a nice balance between seeing and doing. The museum reopened in 2018 and became the European Museum of the Year in 2019. I had now been employed by Rijksmuseum Boerhaave for 20 years. I wondered: what's the next challenge? I started looking around: what do I want?

After a while this vacancy came up. I only knew De Bastei from hearsay, had never been there… The first time was during the job application. When I got there, I was immediately sold.'

Museum De Bastei directeur Hans Hooijmaijers

Why does De Bastei appeal to you so much?
'It's a beautiful building. There is something very beautiful. Both in terms of content (with archaeological pieces and nature pieces) and on an entertainment level (with various interactives) and a beautiful terrace with a view over Waal and Waal Bridge. This is a dream place!'

educatie Museum De Bastei

Do you still think education is important?
'Of course. I often talk about it with my team. It's something I think I bring up most often in the months I've been working here. We offer education with a broad package:
 

  1. Nature-environmental education. We are a broker between schools and providers. 50 organizations in Nijmegen offer activities. We link the schools to an activity via the website and take care of the settlement. 
  2. We have great educational programs ourselves: in the museum and in the Stadswaard nature reserve (a field lesson).
  3. We are the museum of life in, around and on the river, with the Waal as the spearhead. This theme ties in with the Geography exam programme, and I would like to do more with that.'

What do you hope to experience as director of De Bastei?
'I would like to be on location every day again, without having to focus on schedules, in a corona-free time. I also miss informal contacts and would like to have a drink with colleagues or new contacts after work. It's more fun to have a chat in the office and it's nice to see people in real life during an introduction. But that will all come!'

What do you want to achieve with De Bastei?
'I would love it if De Bastei had regional and national fame in 5 years. I would like to see visitors have a good time in the museum. I think that's the most important thing!

It would be great if visitors remembered a few things and got a feel for Nijmegen's past. I hope that people leave with a good feeling after a visit to De Bastei. Then I'm satisfied.'

 

Kanonnengang De Bastei Nijmegen
Logo De Bastei

Museamarketing takes care of, among other things, the Google promotional campaigns for Museum De Bastei. Think of Google Display and Google Grants / Google Search campaigns.

Museum De Bastei is a real Family Museum. The museum was created from a merger of the Nature Museum Nijmegen and Museum de Stratemakerstoren. There is much to see and do for young and old. The view from the balcony over the Waal river, the bridges and nature is phenomenal.

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