News — 26 May 2023

When does everyone feel at home in a museum, when is a museum truly for everyone? On Tuesday, May 30 at 10:40 p.m. on NPO2, the documentary White Balls On Walls takes you behind the scenes of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in its efforts to become a truer reflection of society. From December 2019 to mid-2022, director Sarah Vos followed the museum through part of this development. It is a process that has engaged the Stedelijk for years and one that is familiar to many museums and organizations in the Netherlands and world-wide.

The Stedelijk exhibits modern and contemporary art and design. In our museum, artists and designers respond to society’s changing dynamics: where we are now, and the direction we’re taking together. At the Stedelijk, we show a microcosm of the world. And while we all live in the same world, we all experience it differently. This is why we want to offer a platform to as many different makers as possible. Because by doing so, we can share new insights and learn from one another.

However, for a long time, one particular group was granted a place in the museum, while others were excluded or overlooked. We are trying to fix this imbalance by looking carefully at which stories are missing, so that what people see inside the museum is a better reflection of what goes on outside. We have set ourselves the challenge of broadening our orientation and expanding the Eurocentric view of the concept of ‘quality’. We’ll go on showing the well-known audience favorites, occasionally accompanied by additional context, alongside surprises from our collection.

White Balls On Walls traces this process, and the growing pains, obstacles and challenges encountered on the way. Sometimes uncomfortable and painful, but mostly human and hopeful. The film shows our colleagues resolutely dismantling barriers, determined to make inclusion the norm. As the museum opens its doors to new perspectives, the world beyond the institution is increasingly aware that a diverse cultural landscape is essential for a thriving, egalitarian society.