Training Sharing Stories on Contested Histories

In 2018, 2019 and 2021, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Reinwardt Academy jointly organised the international training Sharing Stories on Contested Histories. The fourth edition of the training is planned to take place in the second quarter of 2022. Two more editions will follow in 2023 and 2024. 

This training originated from the need to gain more expertise on the engagement with contested heritage and explores approaches and tools available to present contested heritage from multiple perspectives. Sharing Stories on Contested Histories aims to contribute to the international dialogue and practice of navigating complex stories.

When it comes to presenting shared pasts, heritage institutions in the Netherlands have become more and more aware of the need to become more polyvocal, engaging, diverse, (self-)reflective and participatory. Inclusive, representative and participatory modes of sharing cultural heritage and the therewith linked histories add relevance to our institutions and society at large. In the Netherlands, this awareness has resulted in an ethical rethinking and change regarding working practices on collecting, designing exhibitions and setting up learning programmes. It is a work-in-progress, however, which highly benefits from exchange of expertise with other countries.

The training is for upcoming museum professionals and academics from the following partner countries of the International Heritage Cooperation programme:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • The Netherlands
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • United States of America

Set-up of the training

The training is case-oriented and practical in approach. Basic literature is provided in advance. The programme consists of: practice-based lectures, discussions and talks, fieldtrips to museums, workshops and training sessions, self-study based on selected literature.

The programme focuses on three main learning goals:

  1. Both from a practical as well as a theoretical point of view, participants explore the relevance of contemporary museums. As a strategy to overcome grid-locked discussions and polarised bubbles, constructive and empathic multivocal storytelling is investigated.
  2. Through activity-oriented assignments and workshops, participants experience the various concepts of exhibiting, storytelling, tour-guiding and educational programmes, and as such get a new and immersed understanding of this way of exploring museum collections and their stories.
  3. Because we are working as professionals amongst professionals there will be a constant exchange of knowledge, ideas and concepts. As such, a community of practice for peer-learning and co-creation will arise that is influential, beneficial for all involved and through the use of new media, interconnected and sustainable.

To read more about the editions that took place in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and for more information on the lectures and the readings, please click on the links at the bottom of this page.

Programme and partners

The majority of the first two editions of the two-week training took place in Amsterdam. The third edition of the training in 2021 took place entirely online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Central to Sharing Stories on Contested Histories is the analysis of exhibitions in the case-study museum. Building on their own expertise, supplemented by insights gained from visits to other museums and heritage institutes and professional exchanges and lectures, the participants reflect on the way heritage is presented. Annemarie de Wildt, curator of the Amsterdam Museum, which acted as the case-study museum for the 2018 training, blogged about her experiences with the training.

Besides the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the Reinwardt Academy and the Amsterdam Museum, other organisations involved in the trainings were:

  • DutchCulture
  • Rijksmuseum 
  • National Archives of the Netherlands
  • The Black Archives
  • Black Heritage Tours
  • Imagine IC
  • Tropen Museum
  • West Den Haag
  • Mauritshuis
  • Museum Sophiahof
  • Museum van Loon

How to participate?

Young heritage professionals and academics from Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and the United States of America are encouraged to contribute to the international dialogue and practice of navigating complex stories by applying for the training. For each training, a total of 22 participants are invited on the basis of a selection procedure.

The first and second editions of Sharing Stories on Contested Histories took place in December 2018 and 2019. Due to Covid-19, the 2020 edition was rescheduled to 11-23 April 2021, and took place online.

The fourth edition of the training is planned for the second quarter of 2022. Keep an eye on our website for further information. You can also sign up for our mailing list, to receive updates regarding the Call for Applications. 

To join the International Heritage Cooperation mailing list.

For further information: rce.sharing.stories@cultureelerfgoed.nl.