KU Leuven offers the possibility of encouraging academic research by donating a chair, which is then associated with the donor's name. A chair can be funded either by private individuals or by an organisation or company. The holder of the chair is appointed by the Rector of the University on the recommendation of the Dean of the relevant faculty. The chair holder can use the donation to fund teaching and/or research. He or she can also use the money to recruit a foreign researcher or a young research assistant for the term of the chair.
In 2012, the City of Leuven has established the Veronique Vandekerchove Chair of the City of Leuven at KU Leuven. It is the first time that the city has undertaken an initiative of this kind. Professor Jan Van der Stock is the Chair's holder. The endowed chair provides financial support to young art historians participating in scholarly research in line with the work of Veronique Vandekerchove (1965-2012), Chief Curator of M - Museum Leuven. The Chair will run until the end of 2017 with a yearly endowment of 65.000 euro.
Veronique Vandekerchove graduated from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) with a degree in archaeology and art history in 1987. In 1989 and 1990 she worked as a scientific assistant at the KU Leuven’s Faculty of Agricultural Sciences in the Centre for Agrarian Engineering, where she carried out historical research. In 1992 she joined the staff of the Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens of Leuven, where she worked as a curatorial assistant and municipal archaeologist until 1998. In that period Veronique was responsible for the development of the museum’s new archaeological department (opened in 1994, catalogue published in 1996) and for supervising the excavations carried out in the city. The largest of these projects involved the uncovering of part of St Peter’s medieval churchyard (1997), the excavation of the museum garden and the remains of the Savoy College students’ lodgings (1997), and the supervision of the excavations carried out during works in the area around the railway station (1998). She interpreted the archive yielded up by the soil for the general public in articles, lectures and the arrangement of the archaeological department. The European project Teamwork for Preventive Conservation (started by iccrom, a division of unesco – 1995-1997) also came under her aegis.
In 1998 Veronique Vandekerchove was appointed chief curator of the Stedelijk Museum of Leuven. She began to work on a doctoral dissertation on the Scenes of Christ’s Passion (Brabant, 1470-1490), a panel painting from the museum’s collection. In her role as curator she was scientifically and administratively responsible for the proper functioning of the museum. She coordinated numerous exhibitions and public events.
In 1999 the first study groups were set up to examine the museum’s expansion and restructuring. In the following years this major building project came to loom increasingly large on each day’s agenda, especially from 2003. In preparation for the closure of the museum and the relocation of the collection, trial installations were hugely important. In three exercises, under the title Collectie in de steigers, the museum exhibited three chronologically-defined sub-collections. These formed the basis of the selection for the permanent exhibition in the new museum.
Between 2006 and 2009, while the museum was closed, Leuven became the venue for the ZwerfMuseum, or ‘roaming museum’. In boxes large and small the public could encounter well known and less familiar objects from the museum’s collections.
From the reopening of the museum in September 2009, Veronique was responsible for the collections, for exhibitions drawn from the collections, exhibitions of early art, historical exhibitions – in short, for a sound substantive museological operation.
Veronique Vandekerchove passed away in Leuven on 25 January 2012 following a traffic accident.