Video: Contemporary Art: Who Cares? Nicole Delissen on Return on Investment (2010)

Posted on Fri, 04/16/2010 - 10:04
Nicole Delissen speaking at Contemporary Art: Who Cares?
Plenary lecture
Return on Investment
Nicole Delissen, Head of Collections & Presentations
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Various activities developed by the Stedelijk in recent years have established that there is tremendous interest in what goes on behind the scenes at a museum, and that our visitors are not only curious about why a work was made but, more often than not, how! This fascination is shared by people of all ages and particularly by young people, a group that is generally hard to reach. Museums could make far better use of this interest, for which the information generated by conservators is essential. Apart from the artist, it is the conservator who is often most closely connected to the physical art-making process or who has a more than an average interest in it. Curators can often answer the ‘why?’ behind a work of art, while conservators can generally explain the ‘how?’.
Over the last six years, the Stedelijk has devoted considerable time and energy to its collection. This has lead to great developments where collection accessibility, object related research and thematic research is concerned, but also enormous progress has been made in collection care and conservation and restoration. This process has yielded a wealth of information which we feel will be of interest to wide-ranging audiences.
But how can we now share this information and knowledge with our visitors?
Although the reconstruction period of the Stedelijk Museum may bring disadvantages, it also offers the valuable opportunity to develop a way to connect our future visitors to the ´back office´ of the Stedelijk and to address the ‘how?’ question. The Stedelijk is very aware of this possibility and is working on ways to make this connection with its audiences. How we plan to do this is work in progress, but our thoughts on the subject will be happily shared during Contemporary Art: Who Cares?
In conclusion we feel that increasing the visibility of the physical, technical and scientific care that the Stedelijk, as custodian of an art collection, considers one if its core tasks, might underline the value of art and culture in a time when the right of the arts to exist looks likely to come under fire once again.
Nicole Delissen (1969) studied both Art History and Art Management at the University of Utrecht. In 1997 she started her carrier at Museum de Fundatie working respectively as a curator, head of collections and finally as deputy director. In this time frame the renovation and re-developing of two museum sites of Museum de Fundatie took place as well as the privatization of the museum.
In 2005 she transferred to the Stedelijk Museum as Head of Collections & Presentations and as part of the Management Team. There she is working with a team of about 70 people  and is, with them, responsible for everything concerning collection care, -research, -documentation, -conservation, -handling, publishing and last but not least presenting the collection and preparing the exhibition program.
After SMCS (the Stedelijks temporary exhibition location until October 2008) and during the Stedelijks ´homeless year´, in which an extensive program of very diverse projects on location was realized, the Stedelijk is about to embark on its biggest logistic operation ever: the move of its entire collection of about 90.000 objects to a new storage facility and last but certainly not least is eagerly awaiting the grand re-opening of the extended and renovated building at the Museumplein.