News — Jan 8, 2018

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Van Abbemuseum launch STUDIO i – platform for inclusive culture

On 8 January 2018, the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Abbemuseum launch a new initiative: STUDIO i – platform for inclusive culture. The two museums founded STUDIO i – where the ‘i’ stands for inclusion – to provide a lasting impetus to accessibility and inclusion within the cultural sector. Project leaders Anouk Heesbeen of the Stedelijk Museum and Marleen Hartjes of the Van Abbemuseum: 'Museums should be accessible to everyone, regardless of age, cultural or social background, gender, or disability of any kind. That’s why, for several years we’ve been developing programmes in our museums aimed at groups who are less likely to visit museums as a matter of course. We are proud that the STUDIO i project offers opportunities, on a broader scale, for making museums accessible and inclusive to everyone curious about art.’ STUDIO i will be launched with a variety of presentations at the CODA Museum in Apeldoorn, prior to the Museum Association’s annual New Year gathering.

Stedelijk in Sign Language. Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Stedelijk in Sign Language. Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron

Access for all

Many museums are keen to find ways of becoming more accessible and inclusive but often lack the knowledge and experience to take concrete action. Now, with STUDIO i, the Stedelijk and Van Abbe are about to change this. Both museums have developed innovative programmes targeting those for whom museum visits are a rarity. One example is Unforgettable, the programme for people with dementia and their care-givers, which both museums initiated in 2013. This special programme of guided tours is now offered by twelve museums throughout the Netherlands. STUDIO i also drew on the Van Abbe’s Special Guests programme, which is designed to make the museum accessible to people who are blind or sight-impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, people with aphasia and people with limited mobility.

Unforgettable Stedelijk. Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Unforgettable Stedelijk. Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron

Tailor-made support

STUDIO i offers inspiration, knowledge and advice to museums wanting to take practical steps towards increasing access and inclusivity. Information about accessibility, inclusion, representation and diversity is brought together and shared on a digital platform (, knowledge cafés, symposia and tailor-made advisory trajectories. Topics covered include applicable best practices, the amenities required, suitable methodologies and concepts, engaging communication strategies, opportunities for fundraising and sponsoring, recommended literature and useful networks and contacts. STUDIO i also offers training courses for museum staff, guides, and volunteers. In addition, over the next few years, other leading initiatives and partners in the field will join up in a network focusing on inclusion in the cultural sector. Finally, the Stedelijk and the Van Abbe are also initiating innovative projects and research studies on the topic of inclusion; the results of which will be channelled directly back to the sector.

Social relevance

Driven by social activism, technological advances and the (re)introduction of themes such as human rights, citizenship and social responsibility in museums, awareness of accessibility, diversity and inclusion has grown in recent years. Also, the museum sector has already taken the first actionable steps towards fostering inclusion. With STUDIO i, the Stedelijk and the Van Abbe aim to actively shape the process and continue to be a leader in the field of these and related issues.

UN Convention

The Netherlands ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2016. With this, the Netherlands acknowledges the rights of individuals with a disability to participate fully in society. The convention is built around the core concepts of inclusion, personal autonomy and full participation. In line with the convention, museums and cultural institutions are required to take prompt, proactive action to adapt their buildings, offerings and programming. STUDIO i aims to offer practical, effective advice to institutions with less experience in this area.

Cultural Diversity

Museums are also expected to place greater emphasis on diversity. The Cultural Diversity Code was launched in 2011. Over 1.9 million people living in the Netherlands are of non-Western heritage. “Queering the collection” is another topic of growing importance to museums, and involves adding the stories of people with different sexual and gender identities to the narratives told in the museum. The Cultural Diversity Code offers a framework for developing diversity policies in the areas of personnel, audience, programme and partners. The institutions are responsible for whether or not they implement the Code and, in practice, many of them don’t. STUDIO i can provide added value here, by sharing expertise and know-how.

Note for editors:

For further details about the initiative, please contact the STUDIO i project leaders:

Marleen Hartjes:
Anouk Heesbeen:

The contact details of the museum Press Offices are:

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Udo Feitsma
Telephone: +31 (0)20 5732 660
Mobile: + 31 (0)6 50 61 66 88

Van Abbemuseum

Ilse Cornelis, Communication & Press
Telephone: +31 (0)40 238 1019
Mobile: + 31 (0)6 12995794

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10, Amsterdam

Van Abbemuseum,
Bilderdijklaan 10, Eindhoven.


STUDIO i was realised thanks to the generous support of the VSBfonds, Mondriaan Fund, Fonds Sluyterman van Loo and Stichting RCOAK.