Study launched to reveal women's role in Dutch museum collections
Little is known of the many contributions by female curators and art historians, collectors, and art mediators to the art world and museum collections. That needs to change, said the RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History and the University of Amsterdam. They will conduct research together with the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. They hope it will eventually lead to a lexicon of women and their achievements.
Only a few women from the past are known to have left an important mark on collections, such as Helene Kroller-Muller and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten. In a special project - The other half. The share of women in the Dutch art world - scientists will investigate the role of women in the art world and specifically in museum collections in the Netherlands in the period 1780-1980. About twenty museums throughout the Netherlands will join the research later in the study to bring to light new names and stories of women who contributed.
Art historian Rachel Esner of the University of Amsterdam explained why these contributions had been practically forgotten. Until the middle of the last century, women's financial transactions were often recorded under their husbands' names. "Besides, married women in those days only worked when they couldn't afford not to. If they worked in a museum, they volunteered, even though they were actually doing the work of a curator - writing catalogs, gathering collections."
Esner thinks it is time to "rewrite Dutch museum history."
Reporting by ANP.