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Wim Pijbes Alumnus of the Year 2013

26 June 2013

Wim Pijbes will be the fifth Alumnus of the Year of the University of Groningen. The General Director of the Rijksmuseum will receive the award in honour of the way that he has been able to bring the Dutch cultural heritage to the attention of a wide national and international public. His innovative approach, his promotion of high quality and his distinctive style are being honoured by his alma mater. Pijbes will receive the award on 1 July 2013 during a meeting of the Amsterdam Groningen Alumni Circle.

Since 2009, the University of Groningen annually honours an alumnus who has made a special contribution to society, academia or culture: the Alumnus of the Year. The award is an expression of both appreciation and encouragement. The Alumnus of the Year is regarded as a source of inspiration to others and is also considered to embody great promise for the future.

For everyone

Wim Pijbes became General Director of the Rijksmuseum in 2008, at which time the museum had already been undergoing rigorous renovations for five years. Pijbes and his team have rejuvenated the global reputation of the Rijksmuseum by exploring new ground and lines of approach. The Museum convincingly unites art history and national history in the presentation of the collection in an entirely new way, allowing a broad international public to enjoy Dutch cultural heritage.


‘I’m from Groningen’, said Pijbes recently in the NRC newspaper. ‘The stronger the headwind, the harder I pedal.’ In order to realise a museum for everyone, he also demonstrated a distinctive style, determination and critical attitude. He believes that all visitors should feel welcome in the Rijksmuseum and that they are being taken seriously, continuing the policy of another Groningen alumnus, one of his predecessors at the Rijksmuseum and esteemed mentor at the University, Henk van Os. The University of Groningen hopes that it was able to contribute to Pijbes’s extraordinary talents coming to fruition.

Curriculum vitae

Wim Pijbes (Veendam, 1961) is General Director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He studied art history in Groningen and specialized in modern architecture. In addition to his studies, he was a light designer, theatre technician and impresario. After graduating in 1988, Pijbes worked for Theater Lantaren/Venster in Rotterdam and organized international exhibitions of Dutch art and design. In 1996 he joined the Kunsthal Rotterdam, first as their exhibition coordinator, and from 2000 as Director. In 2008 Pijbes moved to the Rijksmuseum as General Director.

Award ceremony

The Alumnus of the Year Award comprises a statue specially designed for this event by the Groningen artist Jan Steen. Wim Pijbes will receive the award on 1 July 2013 during a meeting of the Amsterdam Groningen Alumni Circle. A video message from Pijbes will be shown during the Summer Ceremony on 5 July, held to close the academic year. The Alumnus of the Year Award has previously been presented to Jeroen Smit, Jelle Brandt Corstius, Stine Jensen and Matthijs Bierman.

More information

Video Unifocus: Rijksmuseum Director Alumnus of the Year

Last modified:15 July 2019 12.27 p.m.
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