Museums sustain us. Sure, we love to eat, but there's nothing that fills us up more or brings as great joy as a few hours whiled away in a stunning museum. Old Masters & the greats of the ninetheenth century are well represented here in Amsterdam. You've got the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum & the Hermitage. But when you want a taste of something bold, something modern, something refreshing, where do you go? Well, there's only one place: the Stedelijk. We had the pleasure of chatting with Rein Wolfs, the Stedelijk's director, about the museum & art in general. Keep reading to find out more.
gloobles: Hi Rein. Thanks so much for speaking to us today! First off, have museums always interested you?
Rein: Yes, always! I started to visit them with my parents and developed the ambition to become a museum director during my studies in Amsterdam.
gloobles: Wow, so you already knew what you wanted to do from an early age. So cool! What’s the history of the museum? How about the building?
Rein: The Stedelijk Museum was opened in the same building where it's housed today back in September 1895; it will be 125 years old this year. It’s still the original building, but it doubled in size with the opening of an extension in 2012. The museum did not really start out as a museum for modern & contemporary art & design. It was more like a general museum, showing historical period rooms at the beginning. It transformed into a museum for art & design in the twentieth century, and just after WWII, it became one of the first European museums to show & collect contemporary works.
gloobles: Ah, that's super interesting. We kind of assumed it was always at the forefront of contemporary art. What is the Stedelijk’s place in the city?
Rein: The Stedelijk is THE city museum. It’s a much discussed museum, together with the Rijksmuseum & the Van Gogh Museum in the Museumplein. It’s THE museum for modern & contemporary art & design in Amsterdam & in the Netherlands. It also has a strong international impact.
gloobles: True. It totally stands out here, particularly in comparison its older, more historically-minded nearby brothers. How would you describe the collection?
Rein: The Stedelijk is one of the museums with the strongest collections of modern & contemporary art & design in the world . Russian constructivism, the largest collection of Malevich-works outside Russia, Bauhaus, a famous Chagall-collection, very strong in Cobra, but especially also in American Post-War painting. Very strong also in so-called time-based media, e.g. video & performance art.
gloobles: You've got a bit of everything! Do you collect art yourself?
gloobles: So, when you're not at the museum, where do you like to go in Amsterdam?
Rein: Amsterdam has got so many places to see & visit: the old centre with the canals, the waterfront on the river IJ, the big markets & much more.
gloobles: You could spend weeks wandering here and not see everything. It's one of the many things we love about this city. What’s your favourite place to see art in the world?
gloobles: Really cool that Tokyo is now up there with the big stalwarts of the art world these days. Alright, just one more. What’s your favourite museum in the world, other than the Stedelijk, of course?