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Internal Seminar On Collecting & Identity
SEP 07

On 13 September 2007 we invited people to join us for this internal seminar on Collecting & Identity as part of the two-year programme of Be[com]ing Dutch.

It was an opportunity for us to explore certain issues around how and why we collect art in contemporary art museums. We explored and questioned what kind of influence contemporary art museums have on the formation of cultural identity.

This event is a collaborative project between the Van Abbemuseum and ICN (Institute for Collecting in the Netherlands) and is the first in a series of events and projects which will interrogate the established thinking on managing and developing museum collections in the light of current debates and developments in contemporary art practice. This reflective activity can be seen as part of the consistent approach, which the Van Abbemuseum had already developed in relation to its collection which is known as PLUG IN .

Subjects of discussion

  • How can a collection reflect on contemporary society and to whom in society is it directed? Is that its task; to reflect society's diversity?
  • Should art works be presented 'true' to their historical and cultural origins?
  • What can the collection tell us about collective cultural identities?
  • How is the role of conservators, restorers and their relationship to the treatment and representation of art changing in the light of new critical and reflexive tendencies in exhibition making?
  • Is a new vision necessary for the museum in terms of collecting contemporary art?

Keynote speakers

Besides the participants we invited to join from the professional world of art, we also invited key speakers to give lectures concerning the overall topic Collecting & Identity, namely;

Zdenka Badovinac

Zdenka Badovinac is the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She will be talking about 'The Authentic Interest Of The Museum'. Among others she was the commissionar for Slovenia at the Venice Biennial between 1993 and 1997. In 2000 Zdenka was a guest curator at De Appel in Amsterdam realizing exhibition 'Unlimited-nl 3'.

Link downloadable PDF

Deborah Cherry

Deborah Cherry is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests are at present focused on a study of contemporary art and the senses, relations between the senses, the prominence given to and turning away from the visual, and the implications of post-colonial, transnational and diaspora studies. The title of her lecture was: " Transnational Practices in Collecting"

Link downloadable PDF

Simon J. Knell

Simon J. Knell is a cultural historian of science with specialist interests in the interpretation of material culture and collecting. He is director of Studies at the Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

Link downloadable PDF


Christiane Berndes (Curator of collections, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven)

Annie Fletcher (Curator of Be[com]ing Dutch, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven)

Kerstin Niemann (Guest curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven)

IJsbrand Hummelen (Researcher at ICN, Amsterdam)