Aside from the artworks themselves, the stories behind the acquisitions play a central role. Curators explain why a museum collects works, and why it is so important that a museum continues to make acquisitions. And how does a decision go about deciding which works are worth adding to the collection?
Personal stories of curators
The exhibition addresses the art historical perspective, but also the question of why the acquisition belongs in the Van Gogh Museum.
Museum staff also relate their personal stories. About how the curators were moved to tears when they viewed an (at the time, still potential) acquisition by Maurice Denis in a collector’s depot, and a ray of light suddenly shone on the head of the baby depicted in the work.
And about how they were kindly asked to leave a smart hotel bar, after cheering a little too exuberantly upon hearing that the museum had placed the winning bid for an artwork at an auction on the other side of the globe.
But the exhibition also reveals how a ripped letter by Van Gogh was meticulously restored, and how the descendent of the Jewish man depicted in a painting by Munch came face-to-face with the portrait at the museum after many years.
Stories of collectors and Amsterdam residents
Personal stories from people from outside of the museum also accompany the artworks in this exhibition. Such as the stories of collectors, museum supporters, and of 10 Amsterdam residents, who – especially for this exhibition – were invited to offer their personal perspective on their favourite acquisition from the past decade.
From a resident of the Museum Quarter and a high school student, to a youth worker from the District of Nieuw-West, and the Amsterdam city poet. All 10 wrote a story, and by including their perspectives in this exhibition, visitors are emphatically invited to consider their own personal perception.
After all, the artworks at the Van Gogh Museum are part of the Dutch State Art Collection, and as such, are the public property of us all.
Here to Stay focuses both on the art and these stories, which introduce visitors to a range of new perspectives on the acquisitions. An artwork is not static, and a museum collection lives and breathes.
Here to Stay: A decade of remarkable acquisitions and their stories is on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from 5 February until 24 May 2021.