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Document Details :
Title: Kunstnijverheid en interieur in het Nederlandsch museum voor geschiedenis en kunst in het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Subtitle: Ontstaan en opheffing van de cultuurhistorische presentatie 1875-1927
Author(s): LAAN, Barbara
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Interieurgeschiedenis en Design
Volume: 39 Date: 2014-2016
Besides serving as a model of museum architecture, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam became synonymous for the national art collection upon its completion in 1885: a part of Dutch cultural heritage, brought together in order to be preserved for future generations. The collection consisted largely of seventeenth-century old masters, but also included Dutch decorative arts, reconstructed period interiors and objects of historical significance. The department known as the Nederlandsch Museum voor Geschiedenis en Kunst (Dutch Museum for History and Art) was situated in a part of the building that lies to the east of the Passage, viz. the eastern courtyard and the surrounding rooms. Instead of the fine arts being the key, it was Dutch cultural history that offered the wider comprehensive framework for the diverse expressions of national culture. After David van der Kellen (1827-1895) had been at the head of the Nederlandsch Museum for ten years (1885-1895), the department gradually disintegrated under Adriaan Pit (1895-1917), Marinus van Notten (1917-1924) and Frederik Schmidt-Degener (1924-1927) – a process that was formally concluded in 1927 when the department was split up into the Dutch Museum for History on the one hand and the Rijksmuseum for Sculpture and Decorative Arts on the other. Various parts of the collection that no longer fitted these two new departments had already left the museum well before this time. This article discusses the creation and demise of the department of the Nederlandsch Museum voor Geschiedenis en Kunst in its original size and structure, with particular emphasis on the decorative arts and interior design. It describes the process of musealisation of Dutch living culture in which the cohesive effect of the national consciousness was gradually lost in the end. During this process the cultural-historical approach was exchanged for an art historical, aesthetic approach in which the aesthetic experience of the museum’s heritage became the uniting factor. The concepts of ‘history’ and ‘art’ thus did not just acquire a different meaning in this new museum context, but they were also assessed according to a different set of values. Appreciation of the artistic aspects of the past gained importance at the expense of the appreciation of its purely historical and cultural historical aspects. The objects of decorative art that were first presented in the context of a series of period rooms were subsequently displayed as autonomous works of art. Their context, use and cultural historical significance receded into the background. When the Rijksmuseum opened its doors to the public again in 2013 after an extensive restoration and redesign, it offered once again a miscellaneous display. Historical and art objects alike are presented as autonomous artefacts, but deriving part of their significance from one another because of the way in which they have been brought together in stimulating ensembles.