Our Lord in the Attic: A Case Study

Museum - introduction

download Annual report 2001-2002 (PDF, 3.2MB, in Dutch)

download Annual report 2003 (PDF, 305KB, in Dutch)

download Annual report 2004 (PDF, 679KB, in Dutch)

Peter Schoutens (photo: F. Boersma)My name is Peter Schoutens and I am the deputy director and facilities manager. I can tell you something about the organization and the running of our museum. I have collected some useful information for you.

Just a note for clarification: although the museum is now called 'Ons Lieve Heer op Solder' (Our Lord in the Attic), up until a few years ago we were known as 'Museum Amstelkring', referring to the name of the society that first established the museum.


download Mission statement (PDF, 118 KB)

Our mission statement

Exhibiiton in the church 'Spirito Y Carne' (photo: museum Our Lord in the Attic)Our mission requires us to balance preservation with access. The museum tries to achieve its mission by permanent and temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions are often fresh and challenging. They combine old and modern, and try to bring together different religions. The permanent exhibitions are mainly the historic period rooms, where visitors get a sense of a 17th century wealthy Dutch merchant’s house.


Organizational chart (PDF, 63KB)

Budget (XLS, 18KB)


The organization and staff tasks

We are a small museum with a small organization. There is a flat structure with limited hierarchy. Tasks and responsibilities are divided between staff members but because resources are limited we share tasks when necessary.

I have tried to write down what our current staff positions are and what the responsibilities of each one are:

Textile collection storage (photo: F. Boersma)enlarge

Storage of the textile collection

The non-public areas

Our offices are small and cramped and space has to be shared with the storage of our archives, reference books, material supplies and the temporary storage of objects just returning from display.

Office space (photo: F. Boersma) Storage (photo: F. Boersma)

The main museum storage facility is located in a different building, underneath residential housing. The store is tidy but small, with every possible space is used for storing objects, including the top of cupboards. Objects are stored in open and closed cupboards, packed in boxes or covered with cloth. Recently a program started to improve the storage of textiles (the liturgical vestments), by making padded coat hangers and dust covers.

There is no storage in the museum, apart from a small cupboard that is used for smaller objects that either return from exhibition or are waiting to go on display.

Fire extinguisher in the church (photo: B. Ankersmit)enlarge

Fire extinguisher in the museum

Fire extinguishers in the church (photo: F. Boersma)enlarge

Fire extinguishers in the church


I am also responsible for security and emergency preparedness, about which I can give you some information. However I cannot go into too much detail, for obvious security reasons. We have an emergency plan, which is actively maintained and for which I call 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.

Within the building there are fire extinguishers – 3 fire blankets, 6 fire hoses (one on each floor) and 18 hand held foam extinguishers (these are serviced by an accredited company).

I can only tell you that we have a burglar alarm system with movement sensors, vibration alarms and contact alarms. I am afraid more detailed information would be too sensitive. We have no fixed room stewards - cameras throughout the building monitor the public as they walk through. The staff from the internal services department operates a rotation schedule for surveying the building by walking around. We have experienced this as being a very efficient and effective way of keeping an eye on things.Shutters from the outside (photo: F. Boersma)

An interesting fact is that we still make use of the traditional wooden shutters, which are on the outside of some of the windows for protection against burglary and vandalism. These are closed every evening and reopened in the morning. This is easily done by opening the windows in e.g. the 'sael' to reach out to a metal rod that is fixed to the bottom of each shutter. Using this rod, one can fix the shutter in open position and also pull the shutter back to close it.


Rubbish collection point outside museum (photo: P. Ryan)enlarge

Rubbish collection on Wednesdays.

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Video: Central rubbish collection point for the neighborhood every Wednesday outside the museum

Museum cleaning (photo: F. Boersma)enlarge

Cleaning of the church by the museum cleaner.

Division of cleaning tasks PDF, 43KB)

Tasks for spring cleaning (PDF, 41KB)

Cleaning of the museum

The cleaning of the museum is divided up between a contracted general cleaner and an in-house museum cleaner (one of our internal services’ staff members).

Cleaning (photo: P. Ryan)The building is cleaned by the contract cleaner, who comes in every day. He is responsible for cleaning the restrooms and the office building. Inside the museum he takes care of vacuum cleaning some of the floors and damp mopping of the stone floors.

The decision on the level of cleaning is based on the amount of visitation, the outdoor climate, the amount of dirt being brought in, etc. In practice the cleaner hoovers on a daily basis, but mopping only occurs when dirt becomes visible.

The cleaner also takes care of the rubbish. Every Wednesday there is a collection of rubbish from the neighborhood - there is a collection point next to the museum, where the neighbors have to dump their rubbish bins. Heavy rubbish collection trucks drive around and stop at the museum to collect the compiled rubbish. This happens before the museums opens, so it doesn't affect our visitors. Sometimes however, the pile of rubbish is very large and sits there the whole night prior to collection.

For the collection there is a special museum cleaner on staff, whose task it is to inspect and clean the moveable collection and the most important immoveable collection. Periodic maintenance of silver and other objects displayed in showcases is also part of the responsibilities. In practice the period rooms are cleaned once a week. The decision to dust an object is based on the amount of dust disposition, which relates to the level of visitation. The tools used are a small museum vacuum cleaner carried on the back, dust cloth and small soft brushes. The museum cleaner records when new damage is noticed.

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