This year, the new Art Depot and Atrium will open at SCHUNCK. In this series, we ask employees and parties involved about their contribution and vision for this enrichment of the Glaspaleis. Fabian de Kloe, artistic director at SCHUNCK, kicks off.
How did the idea for the Art Depot ever come about?
The idea has been around for a long time. For years there had been a need for more space for the collection, and preferably close to the Glaspaleis. Of course, the building was never built as a museum, so space was sometimes a puzzle, to say the least. For instance, as custodians of the city's collection, we struggled with storage challenges. It started with storage in the basement, and that eventually expanded to external locations, which is far from ideal and also inefficient. Heerlen's city collection is a gem. It is the oldest collection of contemporary art in Limburg. It has been collected at the highest level since the 1950s, with a particular focus on innovation in the visual arts. This progressive, innovative approach is in the city's DNA, and in the architecture of the Glaspaleis itself, among other things. With an art depot, we solve the storage problem of this special legacy, and also make the collection visible again for and with the community. For now, and for generations to come.
What choices were made and why?
As mentioned, there was a need, partly from the municipality itself, to keep the collection close to both the Glaspaleis and the heart of the city. A stroke of luck was the presence of an unused space between the Glaspaleis and the music and dance school; that which will now become the atrium. This open space was and is essential for daylight in the museum. At the same time, it was an open and dangerous 'hole' in the city centre. Litter was dumped and people sought out the edges of the balustrade. Something had to be done about that. So with the arrival of the atrium and art depot, we are catching several birds with one stone. We also chose to incorporate a tribute to Nic. Tummers in the glass span: "Les extrêmes se touchent". Freely translated, it means 'the extremes find each other'. With these words, Nic. Tummers' father-in-law typified the relationship between his daughter Vera and Nic. The expression in question refers to the attraction between their divergent views on life and art. At the same time, it applies to Nic's multifaceted ideas and his attention to Heerlen's various time layers: the Roman era, the Middle Ages, mining, modernism as well as the post-industrial legacy.
Why is this great for visitors?
Bridging the atrium with glass creates a great space for presentations. It is a beautiful, high space, with a view of the church. It creates a connection between the art depot and the museum; you will soon be able to literally look and cross from one to the other. This offers both the visitor and the city much more experience. At street level, one literally looks into the museum. A peephole, as it was called earlier in newspaper De Limburger. Not a crazy name at all. The collection itself in the Art Depot, with changing presentations, is permanently up close for all to see. That which was invisible becomes visible. An important part of the cultural story of the city, the region and Limburg is finally - responsibly - placed in the light of day.
How exactly does the presentation of the collection at the Art Depot work?
The collection works are shown in different assemblies on an ongoing basis. This can be based on broader theme days or certain anniversaries. In addition, someone is periodically invited - from the city - to choose and present their favourite pieces. Why this choice? What does it evoke and what does it mean? The person in question can be young or old, familiar or unfamiliar with the collection. This involvement is what I immediately find most special about this idea. We are going to see the collection even more through the eyes of others. That way, the story keeps moving with the times.
What is your favourite work in the collection?
Phew, I have to think about that for a moment. There is so much beauty that is now coming back to the surface. Being involved in this makes you see again how much richness and versatility the collection contains. I am particularly looking forward to the constant, structural interaction, together with the community. We will continue to make the collection visible together. That will make it a living collection, and that's what it's all about in the end. I'm really looking forward to the potential that the Atrium and Art Depot can offer together.