Incoming NFSA CEO responds to critics of appointment

10 July, 2017 by Jan Müller

The appointment of Dutch archivist Jan Müller as CEO of the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), the third non-Australian to occupy the post in 12 years, raised concerns from sections of the screen industry. While no one questions the qualifications of Müller, the CEO of Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision since 2009, many asked why no Australian resident, born here or overseas, was deemed suitable. IF invited Müller to respond.


First of all, it’s not my place to comment on the recruitment process which led to my appointment. I can say, however, that the NFSA has earned an international reputation and I am thrilled to have been selected from a field of local and international candidates. 

Naturally, I am fully aware of the responsibility coming with a position in which cultural heritage is so obviously involved. I am a cosmopolitan. I am familiar with a variety of cultures, types of people, customs and ways of life. 

The NFSA has a highly experienced management team who among many things have an intimate understanding of the collection and the industry. I will learn a lot from them and I expect my background and skills will augment and complement those existing strengths in the NFSA.

In my role as president of the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA) and as the chair of the Europeana Foundation I am used to working with colleagues from cultural heritage institutes from many different countries, speaking many different languages. 

We all had our different cultural, societal and political backgrounds, but one common believe connected us strongly: our unconditional love and respect for our joint cultural heritage.

In my role as new CEO of NFSA, I will continue working this way. And it's good to hear that my cultural institution colleagues are happy with my appointment. Last November, when I spoke at the NFSA's Digital Directions seminar, I met people like Robin Phua (State Library of NSW), David Fricker (National Archives of Australia), Frank Howarth (Museums Australia), Tea Uglow (Google), and members of the GLAM peak bodies. 

It's good I know them already, because I passionately believe in collaboration. This also makes sense with respect to Australian music, film and television, competing in a global marketplace. These industries are increasingly outwardly focused in this connected world. 

The NFSA can and will increasingly be a trusted partner in connecting Australia's (digital) cultural heritage and its past, present and future. This is a role which is vital for any long-term relationship between NFSA and its partners in all audiovisual domains, including the music, film and television industry.

Naturally, the proof of my appointment will be in the pudding. I hope I will be judged by what I can achieve with the team at the NFSA and through our collaborations, not by where I come from. I’m mindful of this great opportunity – and am eager to get started!