Mission and vision
Read more about the mission and vision.
The Middelheim Museum collects, stores, researches and exhibits a selective overview of modern and contemporary sculptures, from Rodin to the present, in a dynamic manner and with an international perspective.
To do this, the museum relies on its permanent collection, which is supplemented with specific works, and other exhibitions. The museum combines a recreational park function and a valuable landscape with museum activities. It appeals to a wide audience that includes people who do not traditionally attend museums, and contributing to a better quality of life.
Aside from serving as a location where the public can come into contact with works of art, most of which are situated outdoors, the museum also functions as an institute that gives artists a chance to create monumental works. As an urban institute, the museum is also active outside of its own walls, contributing to the visual arts policy of the city of Antwerp and making people aware of art in the public space.
The unique character of the museum and its collection is largely due to a combination of two factors. On the one hand, there is the period, stretching from Rodin through to the present day, and on the other there is the fact that the art consists of outdoor sculptures situated in a park.
With the period its collection represents, Middelheim Museum unifies modern and contemporary art, as opposed to those contemporary art museums that emphasise a break between the two. It is this confrontation between the modern collection and contemporary art exhibitions and acquisitions that leads to a fascinating interaction and allows the museum to regenerate itself in surprising ways.
The open-air aspect means that the works are closely related to art in the public space, and this also results in a link to the public domain. While the Beeld in de Stad (Sculpture in the City) workgroup is anchored in the Middelheim, the 2007-2012 administrative agreement states that more art must be installed in public spaces. By combining both, the museum will be playing a more active role in installing art in public spaces in Antwerp in the years to come. Public activities are already doing this in the Kiel project, which has been undertaken together with educational institutions.
The city of Antwerp’s administrative agreement also focuses on locations where new art and work by young artists can be exhibited, and an exhibition programme in the HessenHuis was overseen by the Middelheim Museum between 2007 and 2009. From 2009 onwards the projects have become more nomadic.
Altogether, this means that the Middelheim Museum will play a significant role in the future in terms of coordinating city of Antwerp’s policies for contemporary visual art. In addition to this, the city is already working closely with the NICC with respect to studio policy and with Antwerpen Open for umbrella initiatives.
Naturally, the core task will still be to ensure that the Middelheim Museum and its four basic functions run smoothly, while additional tasks mean that the museum will be firmly anchored in the urban fabric. However, these additional tasks do bring a requirement for additional staff, adjustments to the accommodation and specific budgets. Additional staff will primarily be needed for collection management, art in the public space and temporary exhibitions, while the accommodation issues have been solved thanks to the castle, which has fallen under the museum’s operational scope since 2008. It provides more office and conferencing space and can now function as a centre for both the museum and for the expanded activities. As of 2007, separate budget items were created for the HessenHuis and Beeld in de Stad.
Moving the administrative office to the castle has left the orangery fully available for the documentation centre. This allows for a full review of core activities, public orientation and the location of this documentation centre. Over the past ten years, the documentation centre has not been a priority for the museum due to limitations of both space and staffing, but now a step-by-step plan can be drawn up for the years to come that will deal with interior design, location, inventories and networking. One of the intentions is to ensure that all books are offered online in Brocade in cooperation with the city library.
In summary, there are three areas that the museum will focus on in the near future.
- First, in the museum itself all the reception activities involving the castle, the orangery, the official residence, the inner court, parking, entrances and signs will be evaluated and updated.
- Second, as an urban institution, the museum will concern itself with art outside of its own territory, in public spaces and with public activities focused on districts and in exhibition spaces for contemporary art (the HessenHuis in particular).
- Third, the museum is eager to reinforce its image as a commissioning authority for artists and to stimulate the creation of monumental sculptures. In 2008, aside from recognising the cultural heritage decree, the Middelheim Museum will also attempt to get a four-year activities allowance within the framework of the cultural heritage decree.
Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions?