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Professionals in Focus: Henk Alkemade, lead/enterprise architect at the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency

Are you interested in the interesting and complex job in digital cultural heritage? So are we. So each month we are going to take a deep dive into the work of professionals in the sector. This week we speak with newly elected Members Councillor Henk Alkemade on the importance of immersive cultural heritage and the challenge of showing its value outside of the financial.  

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Henk Alkemade, RCE, Amersfoort, CC BY-SA

About Henk…

After studying physical geography, I worked in IT and IT-management until mid-2016, but I have always been very interested in history and archaeology (especially landscape archaeology). In 2007 I joined the Dutch National Heritage Agency as an IT-manager and had the opportunity to be involved in Europeana projects like CARARE and LoCloud. Working on cultural heritage with kindred spirits from all over Europe really sparked my passion and when the chance came to become more involved in heritage itself, I changed jobs to become a senior specialist in (pre-)historical landscapes.         

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a politically really hot issue in the Netherlands: soil subsidence and GHG-emissions, their impact on cultural heritage, possible countermeasures and their impact on cultural heritage. Since the beginning of 2019, I have been involved in the use of satellite data (Copernicus Programme) for the exploration, monitoring and management of cultural heritage. A significant part of my work is programs and projects concerning cultural heritage data management, connecting data (using controlled vocabularies) and publishing data, f.i. in Network Digital Heritage (in the Netherlands) and Europeana. Apart from that, I work part of my time as an enterprise architect, aligning business goals, processes and IT and as a Financial Director of CARARE CLG.      

Henk Alkemade presenting, 2018, CC BY-SA
Henk Alkemade presenting, 2018, CC BY-SA

What are some of the challenges in your role? What are some of your favourite elements?

I think one of the most challenging aspects is that the value of non-movable cultural heritage cannot simply be measured in euro’s and that means it’s always an uphill struggle with competing for economically motivated land use. Therefore it is vitally important that not only specialists, but also the general public can enjoy and appreciate cultural heritage, so decision makers will take the value of cultural heritage into proper account. Apart from being challenges, this is also what I enjoy most in working on with you all!

What was your motivation for joining the Members Council?

I think it of vital importance that Europeana is able to reach the interested general public, showing and connecting especially trans-boundary phenomena (like archaeology) and also using 3D, AR, VR and (as much as possible) personalised storytelling to give people a more real-life cultural heritage experience. I really want to work towards that goal together with my colleagues in the Members Council.

What do you plan to do as a Members Councillor?

I will do whatever I can to help make Europeana the place to be for cultural heritage, not only for professionals and researchers but also for the interested general public and schools.  And of course, I will be actively involved in communities and the working of the MC itself.

Are you interested in finding out about a career in digital cultural heritage? Read about the interesting roles of our Members Councillors, or visit the Europeana jobs page for any new opportunities. 

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