Michiel Purmer studied Human Geography, specialising in Historical Geography at Utrecht University. In 2000, he began working for Natuurmonumenten, a Dutch NGO that manages more than 100.000 HA of nature reserves, including a broad array of cultural heritage: archaeology, country estates, historical buildings and cultural landscapes. As senior heritage specialist he is an advisor on cultural heritage for this society in the field of landscapes, archaeology and parks and gardens. Michiel Purmer also represents Natuurmonumenten in the broad field of cultural heritage in The Netherlands, working, for example, with other nature conservation organisations, the Dutch Heritage Agency and universities.
Michiel Purmer defended his PhD thesis at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2018. The thesis, entitled Het landschap bewaard (The landscape preserved), studied Natuurmonumenten as an heritage organization, with focus on historical cultural landscapes in historical perspective.
Michiel Purmer guest lectures at universities and previously held a position at Groningen University. He regularly publishes on heritage and landscape, but also on other fields of interest like numismatic and clay pipes and recently became a member of the National Consultation Panel on Heritage of the Netherlands.