PhD Research: Private collectors as care-takers (Artemis Rustau)

Posted on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 18:24


Artemis Rustau


Title of research project / research interests         

Private collectors as care-takers


Type of research e.g. PhD or Postdoc    



Affiliation(s)      Maastricht University


Supervisor(s)     Promotor: Prof. dr. Renée van de Vall, Maastricht University
Co-promotor: Dr. Vivian van Saaze, Maastricht University


(Estimated) date of completion    01.09.2019


Previous education and/or work experience


Artemis Rustau is a conservator specialised in the conservation of modern and contemporary art. She holds a Diploma degree in painting conservation from the Academy of fine Arts Dresden and completed a postgraduate internship in the conservation of easel paintings at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge University. Prior to starting the PhD, she worked as a conservator at the Landesmuseum Hannover and the Kunsthaus Zürich. Before and during her studies she worked as a conservator at various institutions and museums in the Netherlands, Germany and the USA.





With Europe-wide budget cuts in the public cultural sector, private collectors play an increasingly important role in the future survival of contemporary art. This project investigates how various types of private collections organize management of and care for their works. Private collections come in different types, from small-scale collections in the owners’ living spaces to larger, semi-public museums with an exhibition space and professional staff. Collectors often maintain close relationships with artists whose works they collect and may even have had a say in the creation of works they have commissioned – how does such involvement affect conservation decisions, loans and/or presentations? How do private collectors communicate with conservation professionals, public art institutions and the wider public? What role does professional expertise play in different types of collections? Are the ethical obligations, legal constraints and financial interests at stake different from those of public collections? What happens if private collectors support public institutions with acquisitions or provide long term loans?


The project will compare conservation practices in smaller and larger collections divided over at least two European countries. Through archival research, semi-structured interviews and on-the-spot observation, it will reconstruct the biographies of a sample of artworks for each collection in order to determine what factors and what stakeholders play a role in decisions about their acquisition, exhibition, storage, documentation, re-installation, preservation and restoration. It will focus particularly on periods of transition, such as the sale or donation of a collection, or the transfer to a new exhibition venue, to bring out the tensions between different ‘pragmatic regimes of engagement’ governing how actors handle objects and things in their care. 





Private collections, biographies of collections, biographies of artworks, cooperation between public and private collections, site-specificity, artist intent, authenticity        


E-mail / Contact details