Jennifer Milton Visits The netherlands

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Jennifer Milton is the Director of Finance and Personnel for Bletchley Park Trust, having joined in May 2003.  She heads a dedicated team responsible for the financial management of the Trust and provision of personnel support for both staff and volunteers.

She provides strategic financial direction for the Trust and ensures legislative compliance.  Jennifer also has responsibility for oversight of governance matters, Company Secretarial support and Trustee guidance. 

Jennifer started her career with MacIntyre Hudson, Chartered Accountants, where she qualified as a Certified Chartered Accountant in 1993. 

MY RESEARCH VISIT TO THE NETHERLANDS

For my overseas research visit I visited the Netherlands Openluchtmuseum in Arnhem.  I chose the museum for its similarities to Bletchley Park Trust.  It is a museum that tells its stories about the buildings, in the buildings and around the site.  It is responsible for self-funding its operations, although it does receive a substantial grant from the Government to support the site infrastructure costs. 

The museum represents the social history of the Netherlands, told through the buildings saved from around the country and displayed in Arnhem, alongside demonstrations of the traditions and everyday culture.  It currently welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year, and I was interested in understanding how it supported this level of visitor and how it marketed itself to its visitors.

My host for the day was Edwin Karten, Director of Presentations and Educations.  Edwin has been at the museum for over 20 years and is very passionate about the benefit and social responsibility of museums.  He is responsible for the delivery of stories to visitors and works hard to ensure the museum reflects different angles of each story, including the diversity of the Netherlands culture.

Ahead of my visit I bombarded Edwin with questions, particularly about numbers and statistics.  I learnt that they have managed to exceed ½ million visitors per annum since 2012, and this has largely come about by diversifying their offer and providing events and activities that appeal to the more general public.  In particular they increased their visitor levels by opening in winter to embrace winter traditions, and are now renowned for their huge ice rink, giant slide and music and singing.

As well as showing me around the museum, and sharing key statistics and knowledge, Edwin talked about their ethos of sharing and growing – he has visited the UK on a number of occasions and is keen to experience best practice.

Edwin reminded me of the need to remain passionate in your mission and keep the visitor at the heart of your activities.  It is rewarding to reach those who might have visited without deep interest.  The Dutch believe in respecting and understanding their own cultural identity and sharing this with all visitors.

I learnt a lot from my visit, had an enjoyable experience, and look forward to welcoming Edwin back to Bletchley Park!