A little over a year ago, the Stedelijk Museum’s supervisory board had the foresight to appoint a new director to ensure the quality and sustainability of the museum. The decision was made to appoint Ann Goldstein, previously the senior curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. The supervisory board also appointed Patrick van Mil as Business Director. This allowed Ann´s connections to the international art world and wealth of curatorial experience to define the artistic vision of the Stedelijk. This is assured by delegating responsibilities to Patrick. I wanted to know more about this model of directorship. With the wider concentrations that two people can have, this appears to be a way for museums to be sustainable in an increasingly unpredictable future. I was lucky to be able to interview Patrick about his role and his first year at the Stedelijk Museum.
Patrick van Mil has had an intriguing career. He was originally studying as an art historian with a specialization in architectural history. From there, he became Head of Presentations in an open-air social history and maritime museum. There, he gained experience of building and developing a museum as it was not yet open to the public when he started.
Patrick then took a very different step. As he put it, he was “discovered by television”. First he was a talk show host then made many different programs as chief editor. “The differences are when you make something in a museum, most of the time it will be there forever but the impact isn’t that big. When you work for television, some of the programs I’ve made had such a huge impact on society and politics, but after one day,” he claps his hands, “it’s finished”.
I asked if this was due to the relationship to time these two media have: museums dealing in history whilst television deals in the present. Did he feel that it put him in a better position knowing that side of things? Patrick said he became aware of how the outside world looks at a museum or a cultural institution. He can now tell people who come up with a plan, “Why should anyone in the newspapers or television be interested?” There is a kind of mentality that is sometimes needed to produce something very quickly. When you have an idea, we realize it, and tomorrow it’s finished.”
“But, It is a quality of museums to reflect on future plans and on research and to think profoundly,” he added. “It’s a quality to cherish.”
Part two will appear tomorrow.