Meta Knol steps down as director of Museum De Lakenhal

On 31 December 2020, Meta Knol is stepping down as director of Museum De Lakenhal. She will be moving permanently to Leiden European City of Science, where she has been interim director since July. Oskar Brandenburg (Head of Programme & Collections) will continue as interim museum director until a successor is appointed. Although Meta admits that 'her heart belongs to Museum De Lakenhal forever', her task there is now complete.

In July 2020, Meta Knol became interim director of the Leiden European City of Science 2022 at the invitation of Leiden University, the LUMC and the Municipality of Leiden. As the development of this new organisation gains momentum, Meta has decided to definitively leave the museum. At Leiden European City of Science, she will focus on offering the city of Leiden prospects with science and culture for the year 2022 - after the pandemic.

Eleven years' innovation at the museum

Meta Knol was director of the museum in Leiden for over eleven years. During this period, she led a change process in the museum which resulted in the festive reopening by King Willem Alexander in June 2019. The collection inspired the renewal process that was based on a powerful, substantive vision. Meanwhile, the organisation was restructured, visitor numbers doubled, the 17th-century building was meticulously restored and extended with a new wing. Over the past year, the renovated museum has reaped lots of praise and received various awards and nominations. Yvonne van Delft (deputy mayor for Culture): "Thanks to Meta, the museum has moved a long way from how it was ten years ago. During that time, she has achieved incredible things and Museum De Lakenhal is ready for the future. We will miss her enormously. I know that she will be a huge asset for Leiden European City of Science 2022."

Future of the museum

Over the past four months, Oskar Brandenburg has been interim museum director and will continue in that role until a new director is appointed. Oskar Brandenburg: "Until then, we obviously won't be standing still. Since the reopening, we have embarked on a fresh course, which we will continue with new exhibitions and perspectives. This will make the museum even more visible in the city."

The power of local

Meta about her departure: "Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to add as much value and meaning as possible to the place where I live and work: Leiden. In the same way that the renovation of Museum De Lakenhal took shape by examining the meaning of the collection and the stories that can be told about it, at European City of Science I can now focus on the unique character of Leiden as a city of science and culture. I leave Museum De Lakenhal secure in the knowledge that, despite the consequences of the pandemic, it is in a good condition. With the amazing team, the renovated building, the presentation of the collection, the exhibition by Claudy Jongstra and the sensually exciting public programme, a wonderful balance has been achieved. In that sense, I could not have chosen a better time to leave."

Foto: Rob Overmeer


In 2022, Leiden will become European City of Science. All year long, leading scientific developments will be highlighted with a 365-day public programme for everyone with an enquiring mind, based on the 'citizen science' principle (science for and by citizens). In 2022, Leiden European City of Science will thus connect science, knowledge, art and craftsmanship through local interaction, on a national stage, with a European feel.


Meta Knol (1969) studied Art History at Utrecht University, specialising in modern and contemporary art. Since then, she has produced exhibitions and writes about art, transcending the boundaries of disciplines. As a curator of modern art at the Central Museum in Utrecht, until 2009 she presented international exhibitions like This is America. Visions of the American Dream and Beyond the Dutch. Indonesia, the Netherlands and the arts since 1900 (2009). In Leiden, she was initiator and co-curator of the exhibitions Global Imaginations (2015) in the historic Meelfabriek, to mark the 440th anniversary of the foundation of Leiden University. Meta is an advocate in word and deed for museum innovation. The article 'Stop the Blockbuster addiction' that she published in February 2020 generated an international debate about the importance of exhibitions versus museum collections, local visitor groups and sustainability issues. She is the co-initiator of cultural initiatives like Framer Framed in Amsterdam, the Night of Discoveries in Leiden and Stichting 2030. Meta is a member of various boards in the cultural sector, including Kunsten '92 and the Vereniging Rembrandt. Recently, she joined the Netherlands Collection Committee of the Council for Culture, which has been commissioned by Minister van Engelshoven to prepare a new vision of (the protection of) Dutch heritage collections. Content, quality, meaning and interaction have priority in everything she does. Meta was director of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden since August 2009. On 31 December 2020, she will be stepping down to become permanent director of Leiden European City of Science.