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Exploration Opportunities Cooperation Rural Heritage in Fryslân

Province of Fryslân in collaboration with the Frisian Agricultural Museum

In 2020, an external advisory committee, set up by the province of Fryslân, advised to start working on the cooperation between institutions that musealise Frisian rural heritage. There are opportunities for (heritage) institutions to cooperate, among other things, in programming and activities. To explore these opportunities, desk research and interviews are required, which provide answers to three issues. Firstly, the content: which themes are promising for cooperation around rural heritage, in such a way that connections are made with current events and new groups of visitors? Secondly, from a business point of view: what are the needs of the possible cooperation partners and which financing structures may offer support? Thirdly, inspiration might be helpful: which examples from the Netherlands and abroad can help the search in Fryslân further? Ideally, BA3 students outline a direction to be discussed at a working conference in February 2023.


In 2020, an Advisory Committee on Museums published an advisory report at the request of the province of Fryslân. One of the recommendations was the collaboration between various Frisian museums on social history, agriculture and, more generally, 'life on the countryside'. As an agricultural area par excellence, the Province of Friesland has many collectors and museums dealing with agricultural history and the countryside. There is a high degree of involvement with the 'country life' of the past. At the same time, there is also fragmentation in the supply and overlap between supply and collections. As a result, little is known about the total collection of agricultural heritage in Fryslân.

Towards an exploration of wishes and possibilities for collaboration

Based on this observation, there are opportunities in the joint development of an overarching story which tells the significance of the countryside. That story can also form the basis for a more explicit visualization with objects from the arts and crafts. There could also be cooperation in creating methodology and activities with which describe the collective story. In all cases, this requires knowledge sharing and dissemination. The Province of Friesland and the Provincial Advisory Committee on Museums expect opportunities for cooperation on rural history, with an emphasis on the social and economic history of farmers, agricultural workers, craftsmen and industry. As the initiator of a project group set up by the Province of Friesland, the Fries Landbouwmuseum wants to investigate whether it can fulfil a connecting role and if so, what this role might look like.

Intended approach

In September 2022, a guidance group can be put together to supervise a group of students. This group of students consists of 3-4 third-year BA students from various study programs at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. As part of their career minor, they are expected to work from Sept. 2022 to February 2023 for ten weeks on an issue that is put forward by an external client. In this case, the province of Fryslân is the formal client, but the supervision is done jointly by the members of the supervision group (see below). The students will have to outline a number of directions for collaboration on the basis of desk research and interviews. Those directions will be discussed during a working conference for the potential cooperating partners, in February 2023.


The aim of the assignment is to further elaborate the general advice of the Provincial Advisory Committee on Museums from 2020 regarding cooperation on rural heritage in Fryslân, in such a way that institutions can collectively take a concrete step in 2023 in mutual cooperation on rural heritage. The means to achieve this goal are twofold, we expect the students to deliver: 1. A report with the answers to our questions 2. A presentation of the findings at a working conference, in February 2023. The report and presentation outline concrete directions for cooperation, possibly in the form of options and scenarios. The options and scenarios serve to structure of the conversation between intended cooperation partners at the working conference in February 2023.

Three clusters of questions

The report and presentation in February 2023 provide answers to at least three clusters of questions. The first cluster is content-related. The students are asked to explore the themes that are promising for cooperation around rural heritage, in such a way that a connection is made with current issues. Next, we want a confrontation between this sketch and the current exposition of Frisian agriculture and the countryside. Which institutions exhibit on this theme? How does this selection of institutions make agricultural innovations and innovations in the Frisian countryside visible? Which perspectives are over- and under-represented? Which non-museum cultural movements and/or institutions would have added value in the search for innovative programmes and activities?

The second cluster of questions has a business nature. In a round of discussions with institutions that may be able to collaborate, their needs will have to be inventoried. What opportunities do they see in collaboration, and what type of support do they need? Ideally, an exploration will take place, on the indication of suggestions in the guidance group, into funds and financing options that can stimulate cooperation in concrete projects.

Finally, the third cluster focuses on inspiration. Examples from other Dutch provinces and other Northwestern European countries can serve as an example and generate enthusiasm for collaboration. In any case, it is required that a Belgian (Flemish) case is explored in depth. The Center for Agrarian History in leuven, which will also be visited, fulfils an important unifying and supportive role for Flemish rural museums in Flanders. In line with this, an analysis is required of the collaboration between heritage and knowledge institutions such as the University of Groningen, the Fryske Akademy and Tresoar.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for 3-5 students who are willing to visit museums in different places in Friesland and have skills to interview, based on a wide range of questions, the management of the musea. At least three students must be proficient in the Dutch language, knowledge of the Frisian language is a plus. In connection with the third question cluster, there is also room for a student who speaks (only) German, French or English.

Client and supervision

The formal client is the province of Fryslân, one of the twelve provinces in the Netherlands. This organisation has its own culture department. The province will delegate someone to the guidance group, together with representative(s) from Science Office of the RUG, the Frisian Agricultural Museum (FLM) and other institutions from the cultural field in Friesland. The FLM is co-initiator of the exploration opportunities and is willing to play a role in the organization of the follow-up. Marijn Molema, professor by special appointment of Regional Vitality & Dynamics at the University of Groningen, will supervise the group on behalf of the career minor teachers.

The students can conduct their research independently. Interim feedback is given by the guidance group, which also contributes ideas and advises on the end products. The accompaniment group will choose a delegation from among its members at least three times for:

• Presence during assignment presentation (mid-November 2022)
• Discussion Plan of Approach (end of November 2022)
• Final presentations (February 2023)

Last modified:30 August 2022 10.45 a.m.
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