Publications

Museum Explorer

Never a dull moment in Flanders and The Netherlands. Art, history, language or literature, you name it, there is a museum for everyone's taste in the Low Countries. Let Museum Explorer be your guide.

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history Kiza Magendane
13 min reading time

A Museum of Compromise

After five years of renovation and decolonisation, the AfricaMuseum in Tervuren opened again. Dutch writer of Congolese descent, Kiza Magendane visited the museum with mixed feelings.

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A Museum of Museums.The Story of the Teyler Museum

With the opening of its new wing in 1996, visitors to the Teyler Museum in Haarlem are now better able than ever before to enjoy the treasures of this oldest (1784) public museum in the Netherlands. For more than two centuries art and science have been exhibited side by side in this unique museum with its exclusively natural lighting and its outstanding exhibits in many fields. For more than two centuries the combination of art and science, natural light and a magnificent interior has made the Teyler Museum unique. Those who have no interest in art, but come for the minerals, are nevertheless confronted with Art. Those who are only interested in art and do not care for physics are nevertheless fascinated by the large electrostatic generator and other treasures from the worlds of nature and technology to be discovered in the museum. The view of the testator Pieter Teyler that art, knowledge and science enrich mankind, still holds good today.

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M - STAM - MAS. City Museums

Three Flemish cities, Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven all have a new museum. They show three different ways of tackling a project. In each case, existing old collections are given a new, engaging presentation.

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history

In Flanders Fields Museum Revisited

While Flanders prepares to devote the years 2014-2018 to large-scale commemoration of the First World War, the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres shows a completely new scenography and a total area 50 % larger than when it opened in 1998. It was a good idea to incorporate the Cloth Hall's bell-tower, destroyed in the war and rebuilt, into the museum circuit.

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arts

Light and Balance. Museum Voorlinden

Light and balance are the two cornerstones of Museum Voorlinden, which opened its doors in Wassenaar, just outside The Hague, in September 2016. The art collector Joop van Caldenborgh (1940), a former chemical industry magnate, commissioned a building to house his extensive collection of contemporary art in a setting characterised by clarity and clean lines. ‘Artists have taught me to look at the world differently, to think more freely’.

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FotoMuseum: Photography Rehabilitated in Antwerp

The Antwerp musem of photography has recently taken on a new lease of life after many decades of dormancy. The FotoMuseum, as it is now called, is owned by the province of Antwerp and has a very extensive international collection of photographs, an impressive collection of photographic equipment and a library of more than 35,000 volumes and documents, and will now finally take its rightful place in the landscape of national and international museums.

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Emotion at the Museum. In Flanders Fields

The 'In Flanders Fields' museum is not a traditional museum. It's a 'layered' museum, a museum you can put together yourself, and so it's eclectic and postmodern in the sense that the big stories are replaced by the countless small ones.

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arts

The Rijksmuseum Finally Opens Its Doors Again

In April 2013, after a renovation lasting more than ten years, the doors of the famous and iconic Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam, opened again. The article presents the renovation of the building and the new museum concept.

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A Museological Dilemma. The New Van Abbemuseum

The normally rather reserved world of Dutch art critics was frankly enthusiastic and full of praise on the occasion of the opening of the new Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven in January 2003. It even received the accolade of being called ‘the finest museum in the Netherlands'. Van Abbe ranks as one of the most important museums in the Netherlands for 20th-century art, and now also for that of the 21st century. Yet it also faces the diabolical dilemma which museum directors find themselves in: how to attract more visitors without watering down the artistic content.

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The Revival of a Museum in a Revived Building. The Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments

In June 2000, the Museum of Musical Instruments (Muziekinstrumentenmuseum, or the MIM), moved into the former building of to the Old England department store chain near Koningsplein in Brussels. After twenty-two years of plan-hatching, fund-raising and hard work, it was time for the opening – of rather the re-opening – of a museum that actually had been in existence for quite some time but was not widely known. A brief sketch of the difficult road from creating a collection to finding a fitting way to exhibit it.

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arts

Back on the Map. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

In September 2012 the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, was reopened. Striking was the spectacular museum extension, called ‘The bathtub'. The article describes the renovation and scenography of the modern art collection, famous throughout the world.

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Three Museums Working in Harmony. The ‘Vlaamsekunstcollectie' Project

'Vlaamsekunstcollectie', written as one word and meaning literally ‘Flemish art collection', is a new name for a collaborative project involving the three most important art history museums in Flanders: those of Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. The project, which was set up in 2001 by the museum managements, covers all areas of the museums' activity: collection logging and cataloguing, restoration, exhibitions, academic research, merchandising, security, publicity, communication, etc.

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Crazy for Art. The Dr Guislain Museum of Psychiatry

The Dr Guislain Museum in northern Ghent is Belgium's only museum of psychiatry, and its rotating exhibitions – like its permanent collections – all attempt to uncover what it calls ‘the heart of madness'. That's an appropriate image to a museum that sometimes graphically, sometimes poignantly, and always honestly explores the intersections between science and art, between medicine and the soul.

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A Brightly Coloured Ocean Liner. The New Groninger Museum

In the autumn of 1994 the skyline of the Dutch provincial capital of Groningen was dramatically transformed by the building of the Groninger Museum. This striking construction, which houses a highly diverse collection of art both ancient and modern, can best be described as a work of total art.

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Fashion for the People. MoMu: Antwerp's New Fashion Museum

About MoMU, the new Fashion Museum in Antwerp: a beautiful and interesting museum, which should however refrain from verbal pomposity in its communication if it really wants to be an accessible exhibition and information centre for a wide range of target groups.

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Gold Leather and Lead Letters. Antwerp's Plantin-Moretus Museum

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is not a museum where you just drop in casually on your way through the busy port city of Antwerp. Its exceptionally well-preserved interior and enviable typographical and art collections make it a place worth seeing in its own right, which more than holds its own with other Antwerp monuments such as Rubens' House or the Cathedral of Our Lady. The house known as The Golden Compasses (De Gulden Passer) was home to the successful enterprise run by Christophe Plantin (c. 1520-1589) and his descendants. With them Antwerp developed into a typographical world centre to rank with Paris, Lyon, Cologne, and Venice. A piece about a family enterprise turned museum. (with a translation of Plantin's poem ‘Le bonheur de ce monde').

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A Fresh Look at Old Material. The Netherlands Film Museum

Like every other self-respecting country, the Netherlands has its own national film museum. This institution, located in Amsterdam, combines the tasks of maintaining an archive with conservation and educational activities, and its film library plays an important role in showing specimens from international film history.

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arts

Sonic Imaginings, Creative Mementos. The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels

Beyond the preoccupations and times of their curators, musical instrument museums such as the MIM in Brussels are testament to the creativity and skill of sound and music makers, allowing us to learn about and imagine the musical and sonic environments of past times – here and elsewhere – while maintaining their relevance for future generations the world over.

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history

Representing the Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum and the History of the Fatherland

The author visits the Rijksmuseum and examines to what extent it is, as a ‘Museum of the Netherlands’, a history museum as well as a place of art. How is the nation represented? He finds out that the ‘Museum of the Netherlands’ disseminates consensus round a joyful representation of the Republic and the modern Netherlands. Who but a handful of conscientious historians will deplore the fact that this representation is a fiction?

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arts

A Twenty-Year Long Success Story Museum De Pont in Tilburg

De Pont Museum in Tilburg is named after Jan de Pont, an entrepreneur from Brabant. The museum exists for 20 years in 2012 and has consistently chosen for contemporary art. In this way a varied permanent collection is being built up in which there is plenty room for contrast. In 2012 there are exhibitions of Ai Weiwei and Berlinde De Bruyckere, among others.

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arts

Closed Yet Close By The Royal Museum for Fine Arts in Antwerp

The renovation of the Museum for Fine Arts in Antwerp will take at least six years, and it is hoped that it will be able to reopen in 2017. Although the museum is closed at present, the collection is still accessible. Some 600 works are travelling to other locations, where they will supplement other collections or where they will form part of temporary exhibitions. We are talking of Antwerp cathedral (Rubens and others), the Antwerp Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), Lier, Mechelen (Rik Wouters), but also Worcester Art Museum (Ma, USA), Zürich and Mexico City.

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society

The Oldest Museum in the Netherlands. Arts and Sciences at Teylers in Haarlem

Teylers Museum is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. No other museum of the same period has been as beautifully preserved. When a museum is named after someone it is often because it was commissioned to display an individual’s large collection of artwork, but the history of Teylers Museum is more unusual in this respect and more interesting for it.

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arts

Portrait of the Museum as a Rendez-Vous. Posthumous Conversations Between Artists

Artists are not lone wolves, nor have they been brought up in total isolation, as Kaspar Hauser claimed to have been. Quite apart from training or personal interests, every creator is affected or stamped by his or her own time, as well as by the (cultural) history preceding his or her practice. Even Cobra artists realised that it was impossible to return to a purely instinctive creative point zero. In that respect it does not matter whether artists do or do not use conscious allusions to the art of bygone eras in their work. Since the postmodern age, linear (Western) art history is only one of the many paths to the truth. Artists do not slavishly copy, they reference and collage, developing their own signature by mixing, freely and sometimes wildly, visual references and indirect allusions to artworks from various periods of the history of art and style.

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Books in the Baron's House. The Renovation of the Museum Meermanno-Westreenianum

A brief history and guided tour of this elegant museum in The Hague, created around the private collection of Baron Willem van Westreenen (1783-1848). After 150 years the museum has been thoroughly restored, and the baron's house was re-opened to the public in February 2002. Since 1960 the building has also housed the Museum of the Book, with its valuable collection of medieval manuscripts and incunabula. Not only the Book Room has been reconstructed, but also the Back Room, which is filled with art objects and antiquities.

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A Park for Modern Art. The Middelheim Open-Air Sculpture Museum in Antwerp

In 1950 the then burgomaster of Antwerp, Lode Craeybeckx, taking advantage of the keen interest aroused by the much publicised open-air exhibitions in Battersea Park in London and in the Sonsbeek Park in Arnhem in the Netherlands, had sculptures erected in the lovely garden Middelheim Park on the outskirts of the city. Craeybeckx, the eloquent inspiring champion of an ambitious cultural policy, felt that as a ‘land of painters' Flanders attached too little importance to sculpture. That same year the exhibition in the park drew 125,000 visitors, and its success led to the foundation of the Middelheim Open-Air Sculpture Museum in Antwerp. It has always been the aim of Middelheim to provide a broad international overview of modern sculpture, but a visit there is also a good opportunity for foreign art-lovers to get to know the Flemish sculptors.

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Paleis Lange Voorhout

Paleis Lange Voorhout, Princess Juliana's former winter residence in The Hague, has been turned into an annex to the Gemeentemuseum. It has become an 'interior', a house of memories.

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One Foot in America. Antwerp and the Emigrants of the Red Star Line

The Belgian shipping company the Red Star Line was established in 1872 with rich industrialists from Pennsylvania as its principal shareholders. The company worked exclusively with steamships (some of which still had auxiliary sails) sailing between Philadelphia and Antwerp. Within a year it added another line, to New York. Its first steamship, the Vaderland sailed from Antwerp for her maiden voyage on 20 January 1873. Soon, in January 2008, the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) Museum in Antwerp will open its doors. Aldermen Heylen and Van Campenhout of Antwerp want the old Red Star Line buildings to be a permanent part of the historical heritage of the old dockland area. In and around the complex American tourists will be told the intriguing story of the long journey of their forefathers who found, when they reached Antwerp in about 1900, that they already had one foot in America...

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