Europa Nostra voices great concern about possible closure of Museum Oud Amelisweerd in The Netherlands

Europa Nostra, Europe’s leading heritage organisation, is most concerned about the news that the Museum Oud Amelisweerd will possibly have to close its doors. Only in April of this year, Oud Amelisweerd won one of the European Heritage Awards, Europe’s highest honour in the heritage field, jointly conferred by Europa Nostra and the European Union. Last week, the municipality of Utrecht announced that the Museum will not receive municipal subsidy for the next four years, despite a positive advice (‘eligible for subsidy with priority’) from the Advisory Committee for Culture Policy 2017-2020.

Museum Oud Amelisweerd in Bunnik, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS“Although Europa Nostra appreciates that, in these still financially difficult times, complex deliberations must be made, we are convinced that the municipality of Utrecht together with the Museum Oud Amelisweerd and further possible sponsors and funds should be able to arrive at a workable solution,” stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, in a letter sent to the Mayor of Utrecht and other stakeholders.

“Much time and money has been invested in the restoration of Oud Amelisweerd not only by the municipality of Utrecht, several funds and institutions, but also by ordinary citizens and volunteers. The in-depth investment in the Museum Oud Amelisweerd is well worth it and the granting of the European Heritage Award proves this clearly,” emphasized the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Oud Amelisweerd is a centuries-old mansion located on the banks of the Kromme Rijn river, on the periphery of the city of Utrecht. After private residency ended in 1989, the vacant building lay in disrepair for many years, though the grounds remained very popular with visitors. The mansion, the coach house on the forecourt, and the priceless Chinese wallpapers in the interior were masterfully restored from 2011 to 2014. The Awards’ Jury lauded the Museum Oud Amelisweerd for its dedication for years to restore and conserve this delicate heritage and make it accessible to the public.

The rehabilitation project cost nearly €4.000.000, €1.670.000 of which was contributed by the city of Utrecht, €1.700.00 by Museum Oud Amelisweerd (with support of the Bankgiro-lottery, TBI Fundatie, BAT, VSB fonds, kfHein Fonds, the Province of Utrecht and many private benefactors) and €300.000 by the Province of Utrecht (specifically for the restoration of the Chinese wallpaper).

“The past years were difficult for cultural bodies all over Europe. It is Europa Nostra’s belief, however, that investment in heritage and culture is essential for social cohesion and economic development. Recent research, coordinated by Europa Nostra, confirmed that investments in culture and heritage give an excellent return over time,” stressed Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

On 7 October 2016, representatives from Europa Nostra and the European Union will participate in the presentation ceremony of the European Heritage Award to the Museum Oud Amelisweerd. “We sincerely hope that, during this festive event, a solid, long-term solution may be proposed by the Museum and the municipality to obviate the threat of closure,” affirmed the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Several parties in the municipal council have asked the Mayor of Utrecht to reconsider the decision.
Yvonne Ploum, Director of the Museum Oud Amelisweerd, explained: “The Museum was delighted when in 2015 it was enabled by the city of Utrecht to apply for a multiannual subsidy for the 2017-2020 period. The museum requested €75.000 annually for four years because of the difficulty it has in generating income due to the vulnerability of the building. Furthermore, unlike most museums, the restaurant on the grounds is not part of the museum and therefore generates no income. Finding corporate sponsorship has proven to be difficult in the current difficult climate.”

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