Our Lord in the Attic: A Case Study

Visitor Management

Lockers in the museum's reception areaenlarge

Lockers for visitors' belongings in the reception area.

This page describes the manner in which the museum deals with visitation of the museum and use of the church.

First of all, visitors are asked to put their large bags in lockers, which are available in the reception area of the museum.

In terms of security of visitors, collection and building, the museum has taken certain measures. There are no fixed room stewards – cameras throughout the building monitor the public. The staff of the internal service department operate a rotation schedule between manning the cash register and surveying the building by walking around.

The museum has a liability insurance – however it is not a Dutch custom to sue when somebody gets injured. There have been some accidents, usually minor but last year a lady had to be collected by ambulance after tripping.

General house rules (PDF, 89KB)

Rules for use of church (in Dutch) (PDF, 56KB)

Museum rules and regulations

The museum has general house rules. Visitors are asked above all not to touch and not to approach art objects too closely. Photos and video are permitted in the museum, provided no flash is used. Large bags, umbrellas and bottles containing liquids may not be brought into the museum rooms and should be left at the reception desk where lockers are available. Smoking is prohibited throughout the building.

The museum has more detailed and stricter rules for use of the church for weddings and events. The people renting the church will have to sign these as part of the agreement. The use of candles is not allowed because of fire danger and incense is only burned at Christmas. Flowers are not allowed because of the risk of water and pollen stains. Apart from these guidelines, there are also instructions for the bride and groom, which are meant to make them aware of the historic setting.

The museum considers schoolchildren the most risky visitor group. In order to reduce risk of damage to the collection, the children are given instruction and information before hand, and they have to leave their belongings in the cloakroom. They are given a wooden pencil to complete their tasks and handkerchiefs to collect their chewing gum.


Emergency rules and fire regulations

The museum has an emergency plan, which is actively maintained and which relies upon the expertise of a recognized consultancy company. The museum has a fire detection system with smoke detectors, which are of the 'intelligent' type, meaning that they measure smoke density and are also able to indicate a technical failure. In addition there are manual fire alarms on every floor near to evacuation routes and emergency exists. In case of fire, there is a direct alarm signal to the fire brigade, without delay.

Fire truck in Amsterdam (image from firebrigade website www.brandweer.nl/amsterdam)Larger groups and events are cause for concern and the local fire department plays an essential role in determining the maximum number of visitors that can be in the building at any given time. Evacuation of the building is complex, even though there are two separate staircases that run to and from the church. Interestingly enough, the second staircase (5) was installed already in the 18th century after a fire in a public building in Amsterdam claimed many lives.

The fire brigade uses three criteria for their assessment:

In addition, they consider compartmentalization of the building - in this case the assessment is negatively influenced by the fact that the building is not compartmentalized. Smoke can easily reach into all the rooms.

The fire brigade stipulates for this building with its current use that:

For the other rooms, which are very rarely used for events the maximum number of people that may be present at any given time is set to:

Carrying capacity

Crowding in the canal room (photo: F. Boersma)Apart from fire regulations that stipulate visitor numbers, their are other factors that establish the number of visitors in the museum, the so called carrying capacity of the museum. The carrying capacity of the rooms was determined by staff of Our Lord in the Attic museum using a methodology developed by the National Trust (UK). In each room the staff team discussed the maximum number of people that they think should be allowed per room. For this assessment the most important criterion used was the visitor's experience: “How many visitors can each location take before the individual visitor's experience is being negatively affected (optimum carrying capacity)." The next question raised was: "When is the absolute maximum number of visitors reached in each location" - which was assessed by imagining the visitor's experience when a space would have 1 extra visitor, 2 extra visitors, etc. present.

The outcome of the carrying capacity could subsequently be linked to actual visitor numbers. To get more information about visitor flow, CC-TV footage showing visitors in the sael on Thursday 22 March 2007 was analyzed for the whole day.  The data shows that on three occasions the maximum carrying capacity is surpassed.

The carrying capacity of the church galleries was reassessed in 2007 by the engineering firm De Prouw BV.

© J. Paul Getty Trust / Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage / Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder