Category: Behind the scenes

Uncategorized July 21st, 2015

My experience at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Hi there, my name is Eline Becht and I was an intern for three weeks at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam. Since I feel so lucky to have worked here, I will provide you with an insight of what my experience looked like in this short recap. When I arrived at the Stedelijk, as a simple high school student, I had one simple goal during my stay: I wanted to leave this place with a better idea in mind of what working in a museum is like. As a visitor, you don’t always know what is going on behind the scenes of exhibitions. How many people it takes to manage such a big institution and what their actual tasks are.

The first thing I immediately noticed in the Stedelijk was the nice atmosphere in the offices. Is this because of the same passion that is at the foundation of their job? I quickly understood, speaking with different employees, that everyone seems to love working here. No matter which department on or what position, from the ticket seller to the financial director, everyone enjoys it. Every job has a communal factor: keeping the cultural heritage safe while showing it and explaining it to the world. All the employees seem excited to be part of such a big mission.

So yes, I arrived here without knowing what I could and would be doing in the museum. Thanks to the employees, who gave me some of their precious time, I managed to exploit my tasks. My major task during these weeks was the education assignment I worked on since the first day. This assignment consisted of researching new workshop ideas for people of all ages and all physical and psychological conditions. To accomplish this I also had to take the vision of other art museums into consideration. I also worked in the museum, helping the volunteers at the family lab or the information desk when it was busy. I particularly liked this function because I had direct contact with international visitors and could help them finding their way around the museum while improving the languages French, Italian, English and Spanish that I learned at school. Furthermore, I did some other small tasks too such as filling in the volunteers’ schedule, taking pictures of specific artworks for the museum’s website, verifying the English version of the audio tour of the temporary exhibition and writing a review about it. Thanks to this last task I learned how to use an audio guide smartly. For me it was useful to understand how these audio guides work, since I hardly ever use it in museums myself,  because I prefer to visit the exhibitions on my own.

I also had the occasion to discover the backstage of the museum with a specialized employee that knew every secret of the building and could answer all my questions into detail. He showed me how the artworks enter the establishment and where they are stored before being exhibited. Art is unfortunately not immune to daily life dangers, and therefore it can happen that someone has to repair it. I have met two restorers who explained the long and difficult restauration process of artworks to me. There is no step back in the restoration process, so the restorers create reproductions of the artwork and test different restoration methods on it. Isn’t it incredible to have the opportunity to put your hands on famous and historic paintings or sculptures? I find their job fascinating but also fundamental; these restores, physically participate to the safeguard of our cultural heritage.

Last but not least, the most wonderful aspect of my internship was to be surrounded by the most incredible artworks every day. I could take all the time necessary to stare at them and if that wasn’t enough I could come back the day after. The only advice I can give you, you who is reading this short recap of my experience at the Stedelijk Museum, is to go to the museum and enjoy the incredible Artworks they have to offer. Enjoy art and share this pleasure with others because remember, art gathers people .


Blikopeners November 7th, 2014

Five Years of Blikopeners: An incredible interaction

Every year, fifteen young people – the Blikopeners – make the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam their own. Now, with the peer-to-peer program in its fifth year, the moment has come to look back on what the program has achieved. And to discover how taking part in the program has affected the Blikopeners, the people they know, and the museum.


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Uncategorized February 14th, 2013

Valentines Day: Cupid hits the Stedelijk

On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, a number of employees of the Stedelijk get to reveal their secret artwork crushes.

Who: Karin van Gilst
Position: general director
In love with: Wall Drawing #1084 (2003) by Sol LeWitt

Quote: ”When infatuated, you long for the object of your affection. Whenever I walk toward the work of Sol LeWitt I get a very similar sensation. At first sight, it blows you away. And if I walk through the adjoining hall, I cannot suppress a furtive glance to the right to see the explosion of color that lurks around the corner.”
Who: Michiel Nijhof
Position: team leader, information center/library
In love with: Peinture a haute tension (1965) by Martial Raysse

Quote: ”I’m crazy about this woman! Such beautiful eyes! Such beautiful lips! I mean, such a beautiful work of art!”
Who: Hanna Piksen
Position: education coordinator
In love with: Cathedra (1951) by Barnett Newman

Quote: ”This work sucks you in, it seems to bubble. And I’m not the only one with butterflies in my stomach. When I was here watching it with a group of children, eight-year-old Lois yelled out, ‘blue – black – blue – black … it moves!’”
Who: Jack Zonneveld
Position: 1st safety guard
In love with: The Beanery (1965) by Edward Kienholz

Quote: “My favorite guarding spot in the museum is The Beanery. At this simulated bar with its bizarre regulars, there almost always is a queue because people can only step inside one at a time. And then they step outside one by one, wearing a big grin on their faces!”
Who: Bart Rutten
Position: curator, fine art
In love with: the room filled with Malevich

Quote: “Those once seduced to read something about Malevich are instantly in love. His art is like a virus that nests deep inside you with high fever: the basis for a lifelong adoration. Since December, I have been involved in the making of a magnificent Malevich exhibition to be launched in October of this year. So basically I’m still a rookie, with puppy love for this absolute radical master.”
Who: Dorine Schreurs
Position: development coordinator
In love with: Catholic Birdhouse (1978) by Mike Kelley

Quote: “I laugh every time when I stand in front of the Catholic Birdhouse by Mike Kelley. The hard road and the easy road….It’s too funny.”
Who: Marie-José Raven
Position: press officer
In love with: Compositie met lila ruit (1964) by Daan van Golden

Quote: “This work endlessly fascinates me, my eyes get fixed in it. Something happens with your eyes; you keep getting the picture out of focus, no matter how you try to sharpen your sight. It puts you in a different, almost meditative state. And however close you come, you cannot catch its magical effect. A bit like with love ….!”

On which artwork in the Stedelijk do you have a (secret) crush??


Exhibition June 26th, 2012

Beyond Imagination

While curators Kathrin Jentjens and Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen are closely working with the artists on the publication and other projects for Beyond Imagination, it is about time to give you a little update on how this anticipated exhibition is slowly but surely taking shape.

Christian Friedrich, Untitled, 2011, video, sound, 33 min 24, courtesy of the artist.

From colleagues to journalists, everyone is hungry for details. This time, you will have to rely on the perspective of the intern (aka myself). I have been present in pretty much every single meeting with the participating artists and will attempt to provide you with some insider’s information about some of the different contributions.  First of all, let’s put everyone back on track. This year’s edition of the Municipal Acquisitions (Gemeentelijke Kunstaankopen) started off as a usual open-call for participants (see blog in Dutch). We received a total amount of 657 entries which all went through an extensive jury process. Through this exhibition, the museum will acquire new works for the collection. Beyond Imagination will simultaneously open its doors with the collection display on September 23rd, putting in parallel the historical collection of the Stedelijk Museum with the proposals for the soon-to-be-acquired.

For Beyond Imagination,  curators and jury members put a particular focus on artists whose practices intertwine different realities, whose medium of choice does not necessarily stay within its own boundaries.  The final selection of 19 (including 1 duo) artists mirrors the diversity and international character of the highly experimental Dutch art scene, a unique ecosystem at  risk due to the current political climate.

Let me start with the youngest of the selected artists: Rory Pilgrim. Rory managed in between his numerous projects in the Netherlands and in England (and also in Turkey as I heard…) to come up with a brilliant and daring proposal for Beyond Imagination. Taking his previous performance during Temporary Stedelijk (Women and Children: What Has Made This Building Last?) as point of departure, Rory will turn the situation around and look towards the future. Our dear Blikopeners (now referred to as ‘The Bliks’, as coined by Rory) have been particularly involved in the making of the piece which promises to be quite grand!

The Blikopeners during one of their workshops with Rory Pilgrim, courtesy of the artist.

Canadian-duo Eric Bell and Kristoffer Frick presented few weeks ago their end project at De Ateliers. During their presentation, they sanitized the air of their studio-space with the help of  three electric ozone generators. In a few weeks they will be part of the Imaginary Museum at Kunstverein Muenchen (July 14th – September 9th) together with Mark Leckey among others. Meanwhile, they are soon set to start shooting their video for Beyond Imagination. We can’t really spill the beans but let me tell you that there will be food involved and it will be entitled Hunting in Heaven. Hard to stomach?

Eric Bell & Kristoffer Frick, Hunting in Heaven, 2012, video, courtesy of the artists.

Amsterdam-based American artist Jeremiah Day is set to depart to the States on a research trip about a particular case of domestic political repression in the 70s; Jennifer Tee’s dance rehearsal studio is being booked; Julika Rudelius finally came back from China with some wonderful moving images; Sara van der Heide is in serious talk with security and Suchan Kinoshita is paying us a visit on Thursday with the final plans for her work on site.

This edition of the Municipal Acquisitions will be graced with an unprecedented number of  new productions. Needless to say that this summer promises to be particularly intensive for the artists and  the team before Beyond Imagination can finally take over the new exhibition space… and beyond.

Henri J Sandront

Intern-assistant for Beyond Imagination