Theory — Oct 15, 2017

Standard € 20.5 / Students € 12 / Museumcard € 3
Teijin Auditorium
Oct 15, 2017, 1.30 pm until 3 pm
Main language

In conjunction with the first Verbier Art Summit and a publication on the topic: Size Matters! (De)Growth of the 21st Century Art Museum, the Stedelijk Museum organizes a seminar. During this seminar the main topic will be (de)growth and how museums or institutions deal with the constant goal of growth.

With guestspeakers: writer and editor-in-chief Domeniek Ruyters (Metropolis M), Professor Media Studies Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam), independent researcher, publicist & editor Mariska van den Berg and architect Afaina de Jong (AFARAI).

The introduction of Beatrix Ruf on the book: "The theme of the first Verbier Art Summit, Size Matters! (De)Growth of the 21st Century Art Museum, is based on my personal experiences with the transformations of these institutes and their corresponding increase in scale, but also about issues that every museum is faced with, struggles with, reflects on how to address, and considers in a self-critical way.”

Cultural institutions appear to be an important factor when it comes to tourism, the economies of large cities, and growth, whether this is measured by visitor numbers, square meters, or turnover. When growth seems to be a goal in itself, there is far less interest for the work that is done for the museum’s collection, the unseen research that is being conducted, or the experiments taking place within the institutional environment. Growth, in this case, becomes equated with bigger, better, and faster, with festivalization, more space, more visibility and effective production, and more professional staff.

The drastic government cutbacks in the cultural sector have played a remarkable role in this. Despite the fact that this change born out of necessity has not been welcomed by many museums, remarkably enough, very few critical questions have been raised. Yet it is essential that this happens, because how much growth can a museum handle before both staff and visitors lose their connection with it? What are the beneficial aspects of growth, and what do we stand to lose? Which qualities do we value most in our own understanding of the institutional model of the museum? There are more ways to measure growth than the number of visitors or square meters. Do such numbers really matter if you want to make an impact on the individual? Sometimes it is only that single room in an exhibition where one lingers, which in turn makes a lasting, indelible impression. Can it be that the smaller exhibitions have the greatest impact?

More about the speakers

Domeniek Ruyters is an art critic and editor in chief of Metropolis M, the main Dutch magazine on contemporary art. He is currently a tutor for the Fine Arts master's program at the University of the Arts in Utrecht (HKU). In addition, Ruyters is a freelance critic and the editor of several books, artist’s publications and critical art texts. The latest edition of Metropolis M was focused entirely on the concept of degrowth.

Richard Rogers is professor at the University of Amsterdam and a Web epistemologist, an area of study where the main claim is that the Web is a knowledge culture distinct from other media. Rogers concentrates on research opportunities that would have been improbable or impossible without the Internet. His expertise on the Web as a knowledge culture provides an interesting perspective on the knowledge culture within and surrounding the museum.

Mariska van den Berg is an art historian, a publicist and theory tutor at the art academy AKV St. Joost in Breda. She conducted independent research into small-scale (cultural) initiatives in which artists, architects, local residents, activists and other citizens intervened in urban ‘public’ space. She is also involved in exploratory research on the impact and value of small artist organizations with artist-in-residence programs which presents new perspectives for discussion on how museums should deal with the goals of constant growth.

Afaina de Jong is an Amsterdam-based architect specialized in spatial design and design strategy. She teaches at the Faculty of Architecture at the TU Delft and is also affiliated with the Sandberg Institute. Through her creative studio AFARAI she works on the borders of architecture and art. Her work is deeply committed to representing people and cultural movements that are not traditionally represented in architectural form. With her use of various form languages, colors, patterns and narratives, De Jong works towards a more inclusive experience of space.