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Portrait Maxime Gerber

Name: Maxime Gerber
Age: 22
Programme: Chemistry (UvA/VU)
Minor: Art History (UvA) 

You need to get the ball rolling yourself

'Although I was certainly satisfied with my choice of degree programme, I always felt the need to do something completely different alongside Chemistry. I’ve always had a very wide range of interests, even in secondary school. I did exams in a lot of science subjects, as well as French and art history. So I decided to get back to the last subject, this time in the form of a minor. Which turned out to be a good choice. It really takes you into a different world, and I'm always looking for variety in my life.

An almanac was due to be published to mark the 75th anniversary of my study association, and for this I got the chance to interview Katrien Keune, who has a PhD in chemistry and is Head of Science at the Rijksmuseum. This later inspired me to combine the fields of Chemistry and Art History for my final project. I plucked up the courage to send an email to Katrien, asking if I could do my research internship at the Rijksmuseum. I received a positive response and ended up working with a researcher from the museum to investigate how gases in the showcases can affect the exhibited works. A really enjoyable project and a priceless experience.

I learned a lot about art conservation through the project, but it also taught me that it’s good to step out of your familiar environment and that you have to go after things yourself if you want something. Even if you only have an idea or just a feeling: talk to your study adviser and ask fellow students about it. Approach people yourself: often far more is possible than you might think, but you have to get the ball rolling yourself. Use your minor to broaden your skills; you will reap the benefits later, I'm sure of that. Personally, I obtained more credits than were required for my Bachelor's programme. Yes, that did cause a minor delay, but I'm happy to give myself that time. I’ve still got a long working life ahead of me.'