News - January 15, 2015

The works

Who? Elizabeth Lara, MSc Leisure, Tourism and Environment
What? Four months internship at Museum van Loon
Where? Amsterdam

‘Many students want to get away as far as they can for their internship.  But I’m from California, and I didn’t want to head off again to another country. Through Facebook I discovered the Amsterdam Open Garden Days, during which private gardens are open to the public for a weekend. It was a model that aroused my curiosity. I love gardens and they have an important function in cities. They regulate the climate, offer habitat to birds and insects and give stressed urban residents somewhere to relax. As early as the Dutch Golden Age people were interested  in them. Back then, legislation was passed stipulating that certain areas between the canal houses could not be built on or developed. Thanks to this bye-law or keur, aerial photos of inner city Amsterdam still show connected strips (or blocks) of green, the so-called keurblokken. The open garden days are organized by the Museum van Loon. No one had ever asked to do an internship related to this event but the organizer was very enthusiastic. He said that no systematic overview existed of the historical development of the open garden days. So unexpectedly there was a job waiting for me. As well as a literature study, I had to interview various garden owners. I had the honour of speaking to the old lady who started the scheme. She had a house like an antique shop, full of old paintings, with a pheasant and a rabbit on the wall and a coach-house in the garden. It was my fi experience of a professional work environment. I was amazed by the little things it involved. Such has having lunch together at a large table with all sorts of sandwich fillings that were passed back and forth.’