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 on this enrichment of the Glaspaleis. We ask Virginia Hameleers, curator at SCHUNCK.
What does it take to set up an Art Depot like this?
As curator, I am responsible for the management and preservation of the collection, so in this process, too, I keep an eye on whether everything is going according to the requirements and wishes, together with my colleagues. This involves all kinds of choices. Think of climate, light, movement and speed - the works must not move back and forth too quickly. But also: how can we keep the works safe? How do we make sure people can see it really well? What is the best viewing distance? We will soon be moving all kinds of collection works from our existing depot to the art depot, so the rotability of the works through the various rooms and corridors also had to be investigated. And at all: which works do we bring here or not? Then there is the control; which shelves do we want to move automatically and which manually? There are all sorts of things involved.
How does this system with shelves and controls work?
We will soon have three different rooms with shelves, each containing an exhibition. On the first rack, visitors will get information about the current exhibition. The control button next to the room in question allows you to control the three automatically movable shelves behind it for each room. If you have read the explanation and decide you want to see rack A first, you click button A. The corresponding rack slides open so you can view the works hanging on it. When the rack has slid closed again, make your next selection. Each exhibition is constructed in such a way that you get an increasingly deeper layer. So suppose the theme is nature, on rack A you see works with nature, rack B shows only animals in nature and rack C only animals. The three racks together tell a story. But if, for example, you are only interested in one of the racks, you are free to view only that rack at the touch of a button.
How many works fit on a rack?
That depends on the size of the works; we'll see how that works out in practice shortly. The racks are three metres long and over two metres seventy high, so we are assuming one large work, or several smaller ones. Nice to know: the automated part of the shelves was specifically designed by Bruynzeel/Bruns for SCHUNCK. There are other museums in the Netherlands with an Art Depot, but they do not have automatically movable shelves. So in that sense, we have a first.
One of the three rooms will be set up by a guest curator. How does that work?
Right, we use that space to let an ever-changing guest curate an exhibition of their own choice. We will also present our annual project 'Curator for a day' there, or invite people from the city to create an exhibition. In that space, we change exhibitions four times a year. The other two spaces always make up a themed exhibition that changes every six months. The first exhibition will have the theme 'looking'. For this, we choose works from the collection that people really have to look at, that contain surprises, or that put you on the wrong track. For example, a work made of a certain material, which at first glance you wouldn't recognise as such. We want people to start with surprising works that challenge them to take a closer look at the collection.
Why is it important for everyone to see the SCHUNCK collection?
We have a very nice, diverse collection, characterised by innovation just like the city itself. It is the oldest public collection of contemporary art in Limburg. The basis of the collection consists of 'Amsterdam Limburgers' and Cobra, includes works by internationally renowned artists such as Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans and Yael Bartana and work by regional and national talent such as Natasja Kensmil, Keetje Mans, Vera Gulikers. It also has as one of its focal points young, regional talent. We notice in projects in which we collaborate with people from the city that they often don't know the collection very well yet. As soon as they discover it, they also want to dive deeper into it, to learn more about it. And that's nice, because after all, it's their collection too. If you have a collection you don't see, its importance is less strong. Besides, it is also just a very unique thing, such an Art Depot with art available under a push button.
I would therefore like to invite everyone to come and take a look as soon as the Art Depot is open. The collection is free to view and visitors can come and have a look as often as they like. This way, they can get to know the collection better and give it their own meaning, which will only expand the story of the collection further and deeper.