- Great narratives or isolated statements? History in the Dutch national museums (1800-1887)
- Linköping electronic conference proceedings
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
This essay asks why the Dutch national museums did not offer any coherent historical narratives in the nineteenth century, but only isolated objects that were not set into the context of a coherent narrative. After some preliminary remarks, I will give a summary of how the theme of history was approached in these museums. The historical dimension appeared as an explicit element of display only at the beginning and end of the century. In the interim period (1806-c. 1870) art and the aesthetic value of objects, was more important than history, a fact that may be observed by looking at both the acquisitions and their presentation. The development of funds available for the museum that may be observed after a long ‘period of national indifference’ (1830-c.1870) was accompanied by a new consideration for objects of historical interest. But even when the Netherlands Museum for History and Art, combining history and the applied arts, founded in The Hague in 1876 was transferred to Amsterdam and opened in 1887 as part of the new Rijksmuseum, history remained a subject of minor importance. Even during the rearrangement of the history sections in the 1930s in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam when a coherent story was finally displayed, art historians retained the upper hand. This specificity of the Dutch museum world will be explicated by considering the contexts of dire economic circumstances, politics (liberalism) and religion (Protestants versus Roman Catholics), but also by relating it to the form of government (with the cities playing such an important role), the management of the museums and the education of academic historians. In general however after Louis Napoleon the national art (and history) museums were far removed from the interests of Dutch rulers, kings or politicians, some as King Willem II were even downright hostile towards them.
- Proceedings title: Great narratives of the past: traditions and revisions in national museums: conference proceedings from
EuNaMus, European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen, Paris 28 June-1 July
& 25-26 November 2011
Publisher: Linköping University Electronic Press
Place of publication: Linköping
Editors: D. Poulot, F. Bodenstein, J.M. Lanzarote Guiral
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