Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History
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OSK Summer School ‘Why we still collect for our public collections’, i.s.m. Vereniging Rembrandt
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28 Juni 2018


OSK/Vereniging Rembrandt ResMA Summer School 2017-2018


‘Why we still collect for our public collections’


  Enrolment is possible until February 14, 2018 (Extended deadline)


The Dutch public art collections are rich and vast, and only a small part of their holdings is on permanent display. Time and again this raises questions as to the wisdom of their still being added to. Sometimes this discussion is related to the money needed to buy important works of art by old masters, sometimes the discussion focusses on the outrageous cost of contemporary works of art, which may in due time prove to have been much more expensive than their later value justifies. When the Rijksmuseum acquired its half of Rembrandt’s portraits of Maarten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit for 80 million euro in 2015, many felt that the Dutch public art collections had now better be considered finished. 


But collections never are, and the acquisition of works of art for our museums does go on. New art is still being made, the canon is always in transition, historical insight and taste change over time, and long-desired works of art in private hands can finally appear on the market. Also, collections that may not be added to or changed, become historical monuments in themselves and over time lose their possibility to function as we now think museums should.


In this course, the importance of collecting and the changing reasons for it will be addressed, some of the most important recent acquisitions for Dutch public art collections analyzed, and the role of the collection as opposed to the event in the museum looked into. Case studies and changing policies will be discussed with the responsible directors and curators, and you will be introduced to the ideas behind the exhibition of some 70 works of art acquired by over 40 different museums over the last ten years with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt which will open in Museum Kröller Müller this fall. If funding allows, we will make a field trip to Bruges and see how a successful municipal museum in Belgium copes with the question of adding to its collection; if not we will invite its director here.   


To warm up to the topic of the public art collection and what it might mean, we suggest you read Neil MacGregor’s essay in James Cuno, Whose Muse? Art Museums and the Public Trust, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge 2006, pp. 27-48.           


The course will be taught as a seminar with (subsidized) excursions. There will be a briefing on May 9. Furthermore, students will be required to give small presentations during the seminar. They will also write an essay of approximately 3000-3500 words, to be handed in after the course (deadline: July 2).


Preparatory meeting: 9 May 2018

Course: 18 June 2018 – 24 June 2018


Taught by:

Em. prof. dr. Peter Hecht (Vereniging Rembrandt Fellow / Utrecht University)



Annelien Krul MA (info@onderzoekschoolkunstgeschiedenis.nl)



Open to all ResMA students and PhD candidates Art and Architectural History, max. 15 participants. ResMa students have precedence over PhD candidates.



(See below)



info@onderzoekschoolkunstgeschiedenis.nl. Provide a CV and short letter of motivation. Deadline: January 31, 2018.


The course has four main components:

1. Preparatory meeting in Utrecht (Wednesday May 9, 2018)

2. June 18-24: daily seminars in Utrecht and excursions

3. Short presentations during the seminar and help in preparing an interview

4. A short paper (approx. 3000-3500 words, to be handed in after the course). Deadline: Monday July 2, essay to be handed in on paper in Peter Hecht’s pigeon hole (Drift 6).

5. Feedback meeting on Friday July 6.



Participation in the OSK ResMA Summer School is open to all students enrolled in a Research Master Program or PhD program at a Dutch University. The number of participants is limited to 15. ResMA students have precedence over PhD candidates. OSK students have precedence over students from another research school.


Deadline for application is January 31. Students will be informed about admittance no later than February 15, 2018. Students are expected to attend all seminars and lectures and read and analyze texts in advance.


There is no course fee and excursions are subsidized. Participants from outside Utrecht may be eligible for free housing in Utrecht (group rooms in a hostel in the city center). Please contact Annelien Krul directly after confirmation of admission if you would like to qualify (info@onderzoekschoolkunstgeschiedenis.nl).


Credits: 6 EC, to receive after delivering a successful paper and participation. Students have to check with their home university whether the transfer of credits for this course is accepted. OSK will provide a testimonial of work load, grade and EC.


Instruction language: English.


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