Van Abbemuseum Wins 500.000 Euro Development Award
On May 17, the Van Abbemuseum was announced as winner of the Development Award for Cultural Diversity by the Mondriaan Foundation. The Van Abbemuseum was awarded for their plan Be(com)ing Dutch in the age of Global Democracy - an 18 month long consistent project inside and outside the museum. The award, of € 500.000 was started by the Mondriaan Foundation to develop more cultural diversity within the Dutch museums. A total of nine plans were submitted by thirteen institutions.
Charles Esche, director Van Abbemuseum, is enthusiastic about the award: “The Van Abbemuseum has applied for the Development Award to widen its diverse, geographically concentrated public that is engaged as producers, speakers, viewers and networkers. We want to give this money back to our society. It is a wonderful opportunity for the museum to grow and to change as a whole. The project Be(com)ing Dutch is intended to alter the meaning of the museum in the public sphere and to create new points of access to contemporary visual culture for people locally and internationally. The project will concentrate on Eindhoven and the region as a place where multiculturalism is practiced on an everyday basis. It will reverse the idea of multiculturalism as an imported situation through immigration or globalisation, instead developing new ways of understanding it through its lived local reality in a Dutch city.”
Jury Rapport - The Jury on the plan Be(com)ing Dutch: “The museum most deserving of the Incentive Prize for Cultural Diversity is the one that is firmly rooted in society. It has an open and penetrating view on the world. In its setup, it attempts to close the gap between the international, contemporary art scene and a more divers public. The museum does this in a refreshing and appealing manner. (…) This plan has high aspirations. It is very ambitious, and therefore risky. This is a risk we gladly take. Because the plan offers an inspiring opportunity for the development of the subject of diversity in museums.”
The International Jury consisted of Salah Hassan (Sudan / New York; curator, dean Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University); Rose Issa (Iran / Libanon / London; curator); Abdelkader Benali (writer) and Kitty Zijlmans (hoogleraar Geschiedenis en theorie van de beeldende kunst van de nieuwste tijd, Leiden University).
A Four Stage Project - The first stage of the project Be(com)ing Dutch starts modeslty in September 2006 with the exhibition Academy: Learning from the Museum. This is a collaboration with Goldsmiths College, London, MuKHA, Antwerpen and Kunstverein Hamburg. The exhibition will present the results of an initial investigation into how the museum can be a site for education and lifelong learning. The recently acquired library of the Gate Foundation will be presented for the first time in the Van Abbemuseum, adding an extensive multicultural resource to our existing eurocentric library collection. Alongside this, Academy will focus on presentation and analysing the information held in the museum through its collections, archives, staff members and anecdotes. The project will seek the answer the question: ‘How can we learn from the museum?’ from various perspectives.
From January 2007 onwards, stage two will consists of a series of meetings, reading groups, discussions and public debates which will take place in Eindhoven and with partners in Arnhem and Utrecht as preparation for a large-scale international ‘Caucus’, to be organised in November 2007. These meetings will involve a number of ethnic and non-ethnic Dutch artists based in the Netherlands, as well as writers, thinkers and artists from abroad, especially from outside the NATOcentric nexus. The core question for this grassroots phase of the ‘Caucus’ is the possibility of the museum to become a site for learning about, understanding and influencing attitudes to cultural change, ‘allochtonen en autochtonen’ and multiculturalism in general. During these projects, in May 2007, the exhibition Vormen van Verzet will take place looking at the historic relationship between art and social or political change from 1871 to today.
The third stage of the project, the Eindhoven Caucus, will take place in November 2007. This will be a three-four week intense period of discussion, examples and the production of artworks for the museum and public spaces in the city. Artists invited for this stage are likely to include Surasi Kusolwong (TH), Ruangrupa (ID), Gülsün Karamustafa (TR), Alexander Ugay (KZ), Flying City (KR), but this will be further defined during stage two above. As the final stage of the project, in April 2008, a major exhibition using all spaces within the museum will present the results of 18 months of art production and discussion, building new relationships with artists and potential visitors and putting the question of a future, singular but inclusive Dutch identity in the frame.