News — 11 Jun 2020

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam watches, listens and learns from the worldwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations and wishes to be an ally in the struggle against racism. The Stedelijk stands for an open and tolerant society, one in which everyone should be able to feel at home. And yet at the same time, the museum is aware that, as an institution, it is on the brink of change and must take bold steps to address and dismantle institutional racism. The museum is committed to taking these steps.

Upon close examination of the Stedelijk’s collection, it is clear that the museum has not made enough progress acquiring work by artists of color and non-Western artists. Historically, these groups have been systematically excluded, ignored and overlooked. And because of this, the museum does not reflect society as it should. The Stedelijk realizes that in order to correct this historical imbalance and the lack of diversity reflected in the collection and exhibition program, it must identify blind spots in the organization and instigate a process of change—not just in its program, but in its workforce as well.

The imbalance in our collection, and in other areas, is painful and we must do all we can to remedy this deficiency. This is why, as director of this museum, I want to allocate a significantly larger portion of our acquisition budget to work by artists of color and artists with a non-Western background. We have already stated in our policy plan for the coming years 2021 to 2024, that the Stedelijk will earmark at least 50% of our acquisition budget for such purchases. Also, over the next few years, our exhibition program will place far greater focus on featuring artists of color or artists with a non-Western background, with a solo exhibition once per year, as well as exhibitions that reflect on issues relating to decolonization and globalization. However, the urgency of the current debate underlines the need to intensify our efforts this year—we must take action now. I intend to open a conversation with the municipality of Amsterdam, as the owner of the collection, to translate this urgency into tangible and measurable new actions that can have material impact. These are the first steps. It is high time that museums not only recognize the problem, but take action to ensure that the museum is a place that welcomes and represents each and every visitor.

— Rein Wolfs, Director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism, the Stedelijk Museum is putting its words into action. The Stedelijk commissioned the Amsterdam artist Farida Sedoc to design a poster in dialogue with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Sedoc has developed a powerful, clear and highly distinctive visual language through which she explores themes such as the dynamics between cultural heritage, political power structures, money and globalization processes. This poster was purchased for the collection and will be displayed in various places throughout the museum in the near future. This purchase is the next step in the Stedelijk’s commitment to becoming an institution that reflects the society it serves.

The Stedelijk acknowledges that it must make much progress as an institution and, in the months ahead, recognizes the importance of transparency in enacting change. The Stedelijk pledges its commitment to taking action to ensure greater diversity in our programming, audiences, partners and workforce. As a cultural institution, the Stedelijk wants to present a diverse range of views and perspectives, and be a true reflection of society. The museum can only achieve this by embracing a diversity of voices on all fronts and across all facets of the organization.

Poster by Farida Sedoc, 'No Justice No Peace', 2020
Poster by Farida Sedoc, 'No Justice No Peace', 2020

Editor's note

For more information and press images you are welcome to contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, or 06 13915060 / 06 28369815, or send an email to pressoffice@stedelijk.nl