Dutch Museum Report: Gap Between the Blockbuster Museums and Smaller Museums Grows

By Dirk Vanduffel - Monday, April 23, 2018
Dutch Museum Report: Gap Between the Blockbuster Museums and Smaller Museums Grows

Every year, a report from the Dutch Council for the Arts is published. It details some of the sectors biggest flaws and gives some recommendations for future improvements. The report is well thought out and researched and includes opinions from a wide cross section of people throughout the sector.

Every year, a report from the Dutch Council for the Arts is published. It details some of the sectors biggest flaws and gives some recommendations for future improvements. The report is well thought out and researched and includes opinions from a wide cross section of people throughout the sector.

Having read through the report, it is interesting to note that the findings, both good and bad, are extremely familiar. They could probably be applied to any country or region in the museum world. It could almost be copied and pasted, which must indicate that we need to work together to solve some of the sector’s biggest areas for concern.

The Dutch Council for the Arts is presided over by Marijke van Hees and Jeroen Bartelse. The report had some positive findings. For a start, Dutch museums received more visitors in 2017 than in previous years. Secondly, the Dutch art collection was significantly enriched in 2017 by the inclusion of a number of works by Rembrandt including portraits of Marten and Oopien.

On the more flip side, the report flagged some areas of concern:

  • Museums are under significant pressure to organise more regular exhibitions and to ensure that these exhibitions are successful with visitors. At the same time, museums also have to preserve works of cultural heritage which is a complex and expensive time that does not attract a lot of public attention
  • The museum sector is benefitting from a growing social sector of elderly, highly educated visitors who are moving into retirement and have larger amounts of leisure time. The sector must not come to rely on this income as younger generations are more and more reliant upon digital media rather than museum visits
  • Dutch museums are often funded by government subsidies but have become increasingly interested in entrepreneurial income routes to gain their own income. Entrepreneurship is often riskier than funding streams
  • There is a growing tension between the large budgets of the big Dutch museums and institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum, and the much smaller budgets that other museums have to work within

The council laid out several goals for cultural policy:

  • Talented creative need more opportunities to develop their skills. They also need access to on-going guidance throughout their artistic careers
  • Every single person in the Netherlands should have some access to culture
  • There should be a multi-layered approach within museums. Museums need to embrace works of heritage whilst also being open to new works
  • The collections should be digitalised and easily accessible for research. These digital collections can also indicate where public interest lies so that museum governors can decide where to invest
  • Museums are important institutions where art and heritage can be discussed and explored safely

Dirk defines the overall policy of ArtDependence Magazine, in addition to conducting interviews. He specializes in valuation and auctioning.

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Koen van den Broek (B. 1973) Orange Border, 2001

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