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News — 1 Oct 2008

Starting now: Stedelijk Goes to Town 

The Stedelijk Museum is looking back with satisfaction over its period of rather more than 4 years in the Post CS-building. Almost a million people visited the museum’s temporary home near Amsterdam Central Station and its 2008 target of 150,000 visitors was achieved with ease. In recent weeks, the museum has been thronged as art-lovers rushed to catch a last glimpse of the exhibitions and look for bargains in the clearance sale at the museum shop. Over 15,000 people have indicated that they want to be kept in touch with future activities and have enrolled to receive the Stedelijk’s digital newsletter. 

The period in the Post CS-building was marked by a concentration on contemporary art and social engagement, combined with a sense of openness and experimentation. When it became clear that climate control in the temporary premises was inadequate for the display of the museum’s classic modern collection, the museum switched its attention to the post-1968 period. Dutch artists like Saskia Olde Wolbers, De Rijke/De Rooij and Melvin Moti showed their latest work, as did foreign artists like Vito Acconci, Shirin Neshat, Pierre Bernard and Paul Chan. Favourites with the public were Rineke Dijkstra’s exhibitions (2005/06), which attracted 74,191 visitors, and Andy Warhol – Other Voices, Other Rooms (2007/08), with over 124,000. The latter showed that well-known works like those of Warhol can be the subject of a successful show if presented in a fresh new way – the exhibition brought the museum the AICA Award from the International Association of Art Critics.

Other outstanding events included the annual shows of works nominated for the Municipal Art Acquisitions. These were based on themes like design (Nest, 2005), contemporary drawing (Drawing Typologies, 2007) and the influence of digital culture (Deep Screen, 2008). In 2006, the museum launched Docking Station, a project space used to showcase the latest developments on the international art scene. This premiered many works by artists like Amar Kanwar (2008), Ryan Gander (2007) and Mario Garcia Torres (2007). Over the period, the museum welcomed a variety of guest curators from the Netherlands and abroad: Eva Meyer-Hermann, Okwui Enwezor, Maxine Kopsa, Nicolaus Schafhausen, Roel Arkesteijn and Andreas Broeckmann, to name but a few. 

Just as the public increasingly found its way to the Stedelijk Museum CS, the press also became ever more enthusiastic about the exhibitions at the alternative venue. Reviewing the period, the current issue of Museumtijdschrift says “(…) over recent years, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam has played a major role in the artistic emancipation of 'world art' (…) in the intellectual and artistic education of the Amsterdam public. (…) the Stedelijk Museum [is concluding] an exciting period of innovation and social engagement.” 

The Stedelijk’s director, Gijs van Tuyl, puts it like this: “From this unexpected base, the Stedelijk has explored art with an open mind. This has led to new insights, for example on ways of presenting art in relation to today’s society. The museum will certainly continue to draw inspiration from this as it looks forward to life at the new Stedelijk on the Museumplein. It was notable too how many younger visitors we attracted at the Post CS-building – a point illustrated, for example, by the success of the Andy Warhol Club.” 

Visitor numbers per year:

Total period May 2004 – September 2008

  1. 130,500 (8 months)
  2. 197,900
  3. 200,324
  4. 223,411
  5. 152,103 (9 months)

The museum has now published a book on its period in the Post CS-building: Stedelijk Museum CS – Prospect, retrospect, authored by Robbert Roos and Gijs van Tuyl 

The museum’s departure from the Post CS-building marks the start of the Stedelijk Goes to Town project. From October 2008 to the end of 2009, the museum will present exhibitions, projects, workshops and other activities in venues all over Amsterdam. The link between all these events will be The Construction Cabin, due to open on 3 October on the Oosterdokseiland. The entire programme can be followed as it develops on the museum’s interactive communication platform at www.stedelijkindestad.nl. 

Stedelijk Goes to Town will ensure that the Stedelijk Museum maintains the interest of its existing public and attracts a new one. It will include both major themed exhibitions of works from the collection at counterpart institutions and contemporary art events scattered throughout Amsterdam. During this unique period of homelessness, the museum intends both to establish new ties with other institutions in Amsterdam and to work with artists on location. The Stedelijk Goes to Town tour will move slowly but surely in the direction of the Museumplein, in a gradual count-down to the re-opening there.