Het Nieuwe Instituut is a partner within The Critical Visitor, a research project that investigates how heritage institutions can bring about new forms of inclusiveness and accessibility through their organisation, collections and exhibition policy. The project has received a €500,000 NWO Smart Culture grant. The four-year research project is being conducted by a consortium of fifteen cultural and scientific institutions.
The project focuses on museology and archival studies: who is represented and who is not, who has access to these spaces of cultural identity and institutional memory?
Led by Dirk van den Heuvel (Jaap Bakema Study Center, Het Nieuwe Instituut/ TU Delft), Eliza Steinbock (Leiden University, main applicant) and Hester Dibbits (Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam), fifteen partners including Amsterdam Museum, IHLIA and the Van Abbemuseum will work over the next four years on intersectional tools that not only expose but also dismantle mechanisms of exclusion and oppression. In addition to two PhD positions, the project includes a series of field laboratories, archive interactions with artists and a salon series to involve professionals and the public in the project.
Het Nieuwe Instituut has been conducting academic research into its collection in collaboration with TU Delft since the establishment of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre in 2013. The broad partnership within the consortium provides the opportunity to conduct this research in relation to other archives, creating new perspectives on the collective memory and the opening up of archives, beyond the current disciplinary limits of the institute’s own collection.
Since 2016, diversity has had a prominent place in Het Nieuwe Instituut’s programme and acquisitions policy. For the Archive Explorations evenings, guests from a range of backgrounds are invited to provide new perspectives on the architecture collection on the basis of varying themes. These include stories that have remained untold or hidden because they did not fit within a strict disciplinary and normative discourse, such as the importance of the squatters’ movement for the development of Dutch cities, feminisms in architecture and the history of queer liberation.
The issue of cultural diversity in relation to the collection leads to new ways of looking at representation and acquisition. As a historical theme, ‘diversity’ includes developments in alternative forms of community that have resulted in self-build projects and other bottom-up practices since the 1960s. In this context, we have developed the Architecture of Appropriation research project and acquired archives relating to the squatters’ movement. Other areas of focus include ‘gender’ and ‘post-colonialism’.
The Critical Visitor also ties in with the Jaap Bakema Study Centre’s long-term research project on museology. Archives, research, exhibitions and the public are connected in the production of new knowledge and values. This research area informed earlier exhibitions such as 1: 1 Period Rooms at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Central questions concern the type of audience and the specific knowledge and values that are produced and represented through the medium of the exhibition.
About NWO Smart Culture
Smart Culture – Art and Culture focuses on research within the fields of art, culture, heritage and media in relation to the creative industries. The aim is to make connections between concrete innovative arts and cultural practices and more comprehensive scientific and social issues.
The Critical Visitor consortium partners: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Van Abbemuseum, University of Amsterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Amsterdam School of the Arts, Accessibility Consultant – Wat Telt, Research Centre for Material Culture, IHLIA LGBT+ Heritage, Atria, the Amsterdam Museum, Studio i Platform for inclusive culture, Imagine-IC, together with the applicants Leiden University, Reinwardt Academy Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology.