The transformation of Museums in the Netherlands, 1990 – 2015

In the last 30 years, more than 100 Dutch museums have become independent enterprises and have undergone a significant transformation, not only concerning architecture, but also their main focus, which has shifted from the collection to the public. Experts from different fields have contributed to the creation of the new museums. 

Under the guidance of Job Roos (department of AE+T), our faculty is carrying out a far-reaching research project together with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on the transformation of museums to learn lessons for the future. The results of this research are meant for museum directors, architects and all actors involved in the evolution of museums. The goal of the project is to contribute to the development of an integral and layered approach which can be also applied to the adaptive design and conservation of Cultural Heritage in general.

Due to the complexity of the matter, the research is structured along three lines Architecture, Museology and Sociology (Psychology). The lines are interwoven and together provide clues to better understand the essence of the transformation. The building activities, the changes in the organisation of museums and the development of the collection can be the answer to societal demands, but also create new forms of fruition. A research model derived from The museum as performance by Dorus Hoebink, adds the factor ‘public’ and the sociological aspects to enrich the analysis of museum building, collection and organisation. This is an innovative aspect of the research.

A selection of 30 museums will be further studied, asking their directors for cooperation. Based on a new integral approach a research methodology has been developed for the identification of the key elements for the change. These will allow to compare interventions on museums and to finally select 6 cases to be studied in depth. Framework, methodology and the analysis based on the results will be presented in a book as part of the Rondeltappe-H&A series. The first part of this research if sponsored by the Rondeltappe foundation.

The second part of the research will include a close cooperation with museum management and staff, aiming at elaborating the results into a theory to be implemented in practice. Regular meetings with a mirror committee formed by directors of museums, experts of the Cultural Heritage Agency, and architects provides the research with valuable feed-back.

Photo: Arjen Veldt fotografie

More information

The project is carried out with the help of students. For more information contributions and feed-back please refer to Silvia Naldini.