When performing her internship for gold- and silversmithing in Antwerp, Janine van Reekum had to rehabilitate silver objects that were proclaimed a ‘total loss’. This experience set of a passion that never waned and resulted in ongoing studies in collection management, conservation and research. These studies resulted in a Masters’ thesis: ‘Alienated Appearances. Study of the relation between the musealisation process and conservation’.

Her practical skills in metal conservation grew in the meantime and many museum collections consisting of metal objects were treated. A two-year appointment at the archaeology department of the State University in Groningen resulted in deeper insights in the conservation and research of archaeological metals. The publication ‘Scientific analysis of the gold disc-on-bow brooch’ from Wijnaldum was the tangible output from those years.

Managerial experience was gained in the last decade under contract with the Government Buildings Agency of The Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. A whole new world opened up because in Holland all aspects dealing with moveable and immoveable Cultural Heritage are divided in separate working fields. The expertise gained in the last couple of years, and still highly treasured, includes project management of the conservation of large collections and designing tendering procedures. Not least because of the very fruitful internal collaboration, one of the most fulfilling projects was the advising and directing on the conservation of the collection of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. This unique and important collection consists of approximately 1500 items of furniture, chandeliers, candelabras and mirror frames.

For all this managerial experience the preceding years as board member and president of the Dutch professional body, VeRes, was indispensable. Allied experience was gained in APEL, E.C.C.O., ENCoRE and jointly setting up the new professional body: Restauratoren Nederland in 2005.

With age also grows the number of invitations to join boards and panels. Joining the Conservation Advisory Panel of the Staffordshire Hoard was an absolute pleasure. It enhanced deeper insights not only into similarities but also differences in conservation opinions across borders. A similar preceding experience was the metal conservation-training course given in Khartoum, Sudan, for Unesco.

The heart of the profession bears a way of thinking which is captured in the following quote from Cramer[1]:

“ Since Charles Darwin, since the theory of the Big Bang, since we have been conducting experiments in cellular biology and developmental biology, since we have known more about processes of ‘self-organisation’, we finally have come to realise that the world is a process. Not, the world exists, but it occurs. In reality there is nothing that does not move. Everything that appears to be static and repetitive, all structures, are in reality only transient, even our planetary system. … it becomes obvious that durability and change are inseparable; they form a creative pair that promotes evolution in this processive world.”

[1] From: F. Cramer (1994) ‘Durability and Change: A Biochemist’s View’, in: W.E. Krumbein, P.Brimblecombe, D.E. Cosgrove and S. Staniforth (eds), Durability and Change: The Science, Responsibility and Cost of Sustaining Cultural Heritage. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 19-25