Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Dutch Update

After several announcements of vacancies in the US museum world, I thought it was about time to update the Courtauld Blog about important changes in the Dutch museum field. Two important moments are noteworthy. Since January 2008 the American Emilie Gordenker has taken up the position of Director at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The former Senior Curator Netherlandish and Flemish art of the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh took over from long-time director Frits Duparc. This charismatic leader has reigned the museum for seventeen years and left right after the announcement of the acquisition of an important painting (for which he had been building up a relationship of ten years with the current owner). The work is Zeegezicht met schepen (Seascape with ships), by Jan van de Capelle (1626-1679), dating c. 1660. The purchase was sealed in December 2007, and it will be on display for three months in The Hague. Thereafter it will be returned to the owner, who will keep it on loan until his death, when it will be again returned to the Mauritshuis. With this beautiful arrangement Frits Duparc receives a dignified and appropriate goodbye from the museum for which he has meant so much.

Moreover, it was recently announced that Wim Pijbes, current director of the Kunsthal (Art Hall) in Rotterdam, is appointed as new director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This is remarkable, since current director Ronald de Leeuw has created and led most of the rebuilding and reconstruction plans for the museum since 2003. It was then thought that the museum would re-open this summer (of 2008) but the opening date has been postponed to 2010, with a recent re-postponement until the end of 2012, "possibly 2013" as it was put by the Minister of Culture, Ronald Plasterk. It is curious that De Leeuw is not finishing this mega-project. Whether Wim Pijbes will change directions or stay loyal to most of De Leeuw's plans of mixing art and historical artefacts in the newly reconstructed seventeenth-century building will be seen in the future.

To be continued ...

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