MEP Sabine Verheyen gained unique insights into museum operations during a NEMO Political Internship

 Sabine Verheyen leans forward to cut a paper with a big paper cutter board. A person is standing to her side to assist.

On 5 April 2024, Sabine Verheyen, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), participated in a NEMO Political Internship at the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, Germany.

During the half-day internship, Sabine Verheyen got to engage in various activities aimed at providing her with a comprehensive understanding of museum operations. In addition to the exhibition rooms, she got to visit the storage and workshop, got insights into restoration work and did inventory. Verheyen was also introduced to the museum's outreach initiative that aims to diversify the audience and ensure cultural inclusion. With the initiative and a research fellowship, the museum seeks to position itself as a dynamic and inclusive institution capable of meeting the diverse needs of its community both now and in the future.

Watch the video to follow along her experience of the incredible variety of work that happens behind the scenes of a museum and hear more about the unique insights she gained into museum operations.

In a press release published before the internship, Sabine Verheyen had stated: “I am looking forward to the internship as an exciting insight into the cultural sector, which I consider to be very important in society in order to make different cultural aspects accessible and to get a better understanding of our own history and roots.”

Leading up to the visit, Till-Holger Borchert, Director of the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, expressed hopes to “highlight the significant impact that museums like the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum have on their communities and the importance of politicians that advocate for policies that support museums’ growth and sustainability.”

Promoting the visibility and interests of museums

Launched in 2018, the NEMO Political Internship in Museums initiative aims to promote the visibility and interests of museums by providing EU policy makers with a greater understanding of the diversity of museum work and activities beyond exhibitions. By offering hands-on experiences, the internships seek to underscore the value of museums to their communities and society at large.

Julia Pagel, Secretary General of NEMO, elaborated on the main goals of the initiative by stating that “the internships create a hands-on, emotionally strong basis for dialogue and collaboration between museums and political leaders. Ultimately, the internships do not only enrich the political leaders' perspectives, but also contribute to the development of well-informed and culturally aware policies that benefit both the institutions and the broader society.

Sabine Verheyen was the fourth EU politician to complete a NEMO Political Internship. Previously, Mariya Gabriel, at the time European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Luca Jahier, at the time President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and Julie Ward, former MEP and member of the CULT committee, have participated in the museum advocacy initiative.

More about the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum

The Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum features an extensive and encyclopaedic art collection from the Middle Ages to modern times, showcasing various artistic movements. Highlights include medieval sculptures, Dutch and Flemish paintings, and works from the Düsseldorf School, classical modernism, and expressionism. With approximately 1,500 paintings, 700 sculptures, and 10,000 prints, the museum owes its existence to major donors and collectors from Aachen's and is now one of Germany's largest municipal museums. 

The Museum recently received a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia for audience diversification, fostering dialogue among visitors of different cultural backgrounds. The dedicated research fellowship focuses on medieval art in order to enhance the museum's presentation and facilitate cultural participation.