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Seminar - Exhibiting the nation: Grand narratives and personal histories

On Thursday 4 November 2010 at 10.30 , the Theme Group “Inventing Europe. A Transnational History of European Integration” held a seminar in NIAS’s Lecture Room. Valentijn Byvanck, Director of the National History Museum in Arnhem, spoke about the role that the museum plays in recreating a shared past of the Netherlands in order to help foster a sense of community that can address a series of social problems.  Byvanck focused on connecting various publics, professional historians and the general academic community on the topic of national history. He argued that the Museum needs to structure grand narratives in such a way that it enables personal perspectives and encourages inclusiveness.


Byvanck’s lecture is part of the activities of the NIAS Theme Group “Inventing Europe” which studies the integration of Europe since the mid-nineteenth century. It will also create a Virtual Exhibit that will bring together ‘European’ objects and stories from many museums across Europe, including the museum in Arnhem. The lecture is part of a joint workshop of the NIAS Theme Group and the research project “Exhibiting Europe” based at the University of Trondheim. The “Exhibiting Europe” project examines representations of European integration in museums across Europe and the extent to which we are currently seeing a transnationalisation or Europeanisation of representations of contemporary history in different museum contexts.


Valentijn Byvanck (1964) is Director of the National History Museum in the Netherlands. He studied Cultural History at Utrecht University and New York University, where he earned his Ph. D., and was a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Between 1999 and 2002, he worked at Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, where he was responsible for communications and theory. In 2002, he was appointed Director of the Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg, the Netherlands.

Valentijn Byvanck became Director of the National History Museum in Arnhem in 2008.


Click here for the photos.