As Head of Research and Curatorial Practice it is a privilege to come into close contact with the wealth of research that is conducted at the Stedelijk Museum. This research ranges from material research to conceptual speculations, and from artists’ processes to curatorial considerations. It is amazing to see how a large group of highly skilled individuals meticulously works through physical materials, historical resources and emerging knowledges to come to state-of-the-art conservation techniques and presentation forms for works of art that we consider to be intrinsic parts of the museum’s history and future. What is presented to us in the museum galleries is the culmination of this intellectual and manual labor. The documentation of how we got there, the hard work of research, the very basis of what a museum does, however often disappears into drawers, computer folders and notebooks to never be seen again. With this in mind, Stedelijk Studies is in the process of a redesign for the purpose of showcasing, as its name suggest, the full span of studies currently being undertaken at the Stedelijk Museum.
We bring these studies to you in several layers. The foundation of Stedelijk Studies was and continues to be the Stedelijk Studies Journal, which was founded by Margriet Schavemaker in 2014. The journal is double-blind peer reviewed and is published once or twice a year under editorial guidance of guest editors. To give direction to the future of the journal the editorial board is now re-assembled to include artistic research practitioners in addition to academic professionals. With this new constellation we expand and stretch our understanding of what can be included in a peer reviewed journal while simultaneously engaging with the conversation around practice-led PhD’s.
The Stedelijk is continuously engaged in active research to improve its existing methods and to design new ways of dealing with the full breadth of museum practices: from registration, tracking, the depot, transportation, restoration, to presentation, among many other things related to the collection.
Expansion of Stedelijk Studies beyond the journal means that the website is redesigned to grow as a platform for the broad variety of research that is undertaken at and around the museum itself. Central to the museum is the collection and how it is taken care of. The Stedelijk is continuously engaged in active research to improve its existing methods and to design new ways of dealing with the full breadth of museum practices: from registration, tracking, the depot, transportation, restoration, to presentation, among many other things related to the collection. With a focus on material research and collection data, Stedelijk Studies aims to share both the process and the results with its readership.
On a theoretical level, and within the scope of the collection, there is the question of how to deal with, among others, the legacy of modernism, as well as notions such as post-colonialism and decoloniality, and what impact these have on acquisition strategies of the future. The results of this research, which leads to exhibitions, is recorded in the Research Logs that are made available here on Stedelijk Studies. In the logs you will encounter exclusive and up to date findings and material gathered by the conservators and curators that did not make it into the exhibition, or that functions as extra background information to what is presented.
To support inquisitive research further Stedelijk Studies commissions essays to shine an outside light on its exhibition development and outcomes. As a curatorial strategy, subjects that are considered relevant but do not lead to an exhibition are also published in the manner of the Research Log and opened up to discussion and further investigation.
Analyses are seldomly conducted solitarily, but rather in collaboration with colleagues, students and fellows from a variety of organizations spanning schools, academies, and universities, to museums and other art institutes. In these partnerships the Stedelijk, by way of the research department and the extensive library, aims to operate as an equal partner in the production of knowledge. It is with this perspective in mind that Stedelijk Studies credits the museum’s research collaborators for their work.
Last but not least, Stedelijk Studies is currently investigating the possibility of exhibiting research in a physical space and welcoming audiences to comment on and participate in the processes and results.
With these steps, we sincerely hope to begin to share the privilege of having access to the achievements of the many professionals working at the museum with our fellow art lovers.