Zahira Zaandam has been with the Dordrechts Museum and Kunstmin Theatre since March 2021, where she is responsible for embedding diversity and inclusion into all areas of the organisation, on both a strategic and practical level.
The Dordrechts Museum dates back to 1842. It is one of the oldest art museums in The Netherlands with an extensive collection spanning six centuries of Dutch painting. Inside, the work of Dordrecht’s most famous painter Aelbert Cuyp can be seen, alongside works by artists such as Thomas Gainsborough and William Turner.
In her role at the museum, Zaandam’s mandate encompasses diversity and inclusion in employment practices, community participation, communication strategies, project performance, audience development and leadership accountability.
In a time when museum leaders, curators and educators are being asked new questions and sometimes facing uncomfortable conversations, Zaandam is skilled at encouraging discussions and tackling topics that need to be addressed. As such, she has also been appointed to a number of committees dedicated to forming new pathways in Dutch cultural practices. She is a member of the advisory committee for museums for the Netherlands Council for Culture, as well as for the Netherlands Cultural Participation Fund.
As one nomination said: “Her natural curiosity and warm personality enable her to make easy contact with her peers and colleagues, traits that smooth the way for others to embrace her desire to include us all. It isn’t always easy, but she does persist.”
Zaandam joined the Dordrechts Museum in The Netherlands following an impactful career in Aruba. Her previous role was at Nuffic, where she worked in program management, implementing scholarship programmes to promote internationalisation and student mobility. During her time in Aruba, she also worked at the Historical Museum Aruba, the Aruba National Commission for UNESCO, the Department of Education, and the Department of Culture. She holds a BA in Cultural Studies from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.