Cutbacks at Geldmuseum Utrecht

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by Christel Schollaardt and Ans ter Woerds

February 2, 2012 – For years the new Geldmuseum in Utrecht struggles with serious budgetary problems. Now the bigger part of the staff will be laid off, services will be extremely reduced, the research department cut off, the library closed and much more. Here you will find an information send by the Head of Department and the Librarian.

Since the merger of the Royal Coin Cabinet, the Dutch Mint Museum and the numismatic collection of the Dutch Central Bank in 2004, the new Geldmuseum struggles with serious budgetary problems.

Soon after the opening of the museum in 2007, the tuitions of the Founding Fathers, the Dutch Ministry of Culture, the Dutch Ministry of Finance and the Dutch Central Bank, appeared not to be sufficient for a healthy exploitation. Especially the rental fee for the building is excessively high.

This resulted in 2008 in the lay-off of 6 employees of the Department of Collection and Research. The Ministry of Finance was so kind to come to the rescue, and promised to pay 750,000 Euros extra for 3 years, under the condition that the museum would be self-supporting in 2011.

In 2009, the new director, Heleen Buijs, was confronted with this problem. She has not been able to find new sources of income. Fall 2011, the Ministry of Finance decided not to continue the extra money.

There was no other option than to reorganize the staff. Since the opening, it was obvious that the focus of the museum was no longer on numismatics, but on financial education. This already resulted in a permanent exhibition without collection, and in the end we can conclude that this change of direction made it easier to decide to cut off the research department. The director has chosen to keep the public side of the museum intact and sacrifice the scientific side, the Department of Collections and Research.

That has resulted in the lay-off of 9 people:

  • The Office-manager
  • The Head of the Department, Christel Schollaardt
  • The Curator of Medieval and Modern Coinage, Arent Pol
  • The Curator of Coins, Marcel van der Beek
  • The Curator of Medals, Carolien Voigtmann
  • The Financial Researcher, Gerard Borst
  • The Senior Researcher, Jaco Zuijderduijn
  • The Librarian, Ans ter Woerds
  • The Database Manager, Jan Pelsdonk.

There are plans to keep the library open for a limited amount of hours a week, hosted by volunteers, but officially there is nothing said about it, yet. There will be no budget for new publications. The library collection will not be built up, exchange will diminish and the international network of numismatic libraries will not be co-ordinated anymore by the librarian of the Geldmuseum. Questions for information from the library collection by external users will hardly be answered and accessibility will be limited to almost none.

Only two curators will remain: Paul Belien, Curator of Ancient Coinage and Erik van der Kam, Curator of Paper Money. The main part of their jobs will consist of making exhibitions.

All other expert fields are not longer covered by the Geldmuseum, let alone the overall knowledge and history of the collections as such. Cutting of the research part of the museum will be a great loss to the national and international numismatic world.