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PT: Can you name an important museum?

GB: Didn’t we all think it was over and out with museums, but no, they are back and with a vengeance! And not solely as machines that cater for the largest possible audiences, although that is what they will need to be at the same time. I am totally interested in what you can consider a classic war of influence and power which is currently going on at an institutional level and on a global scale. Take for instance the Louvre, reinventing itself in the Middle East, or a new and vast museum called M+ which will open very soon in Hong Kong, and what about the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, writing or rewriting the history of all mankind? Museums are in other words totally back as instruments of ideology and propaganda. In terms of importance, we have to wait a while before this new playing field is established and a new hierarchy made explicit, but it is obvious that the absolute reign of institutes from the USA, like MoMa and the Metropolitan, is of the past.

In these culture wars for influence, it is important that institutes like Het Nieuwe Instituut continue to explicitly question the idea of a canon. We are not huge, but we are not small either; we have enough critical mass to question, and we are publicly funded.

We have, in other words, been given the opportunity by the government to be open to all those as yet unarticulated stories out there. Cultural institutes like Het Nieuwe Instituut are probably among the last spaces where such stories can be told. And because we are publicly funded, we need to take the notion of the public extremely seriously, but thankfully in other terms then pure mass. 

We can play an active role as a catalyst for all those untold, disregarded and (most of the time) deliberately ignored narratives about design, architecture, digital culture, their makers and all their possible users.

PT: What would carte blanche look like?

GB: I am not interested in a sugar daddy or -mummy: we all need money, but it never should be the starting point for any project. If I were able to set up a possible next project and have it rooted in my personal interest, I would probably focus on how the temporary could be embraced as a tool for transformation. The exhibition models I have initiated have expanded to the scale of full blown museums, archives and even city-parks. They have all led to fundamental changes in policy, city-planning, and even the psychology of a city. In other words: the temporary can be a brilliant agent for change, but it is currently employed mainly for formats like the biennale, the festival and the exhibition.

I would definitely be intrigued by the idea of an institute for temporary institutes. There is enough infrastructure available out there, but how to animate it, how to program it, how to transform it in order to fit our current needs – that’s the interesting question. Not by starting with the hardware, but by developing the software. Let us learn from exhibitions and exhibition-makers, extrapolate from their knowledge of the temporary and make use of all that is out there and forgotten, problematized or marginalized, yet full of potential.


This interview was first published in New Exhibition Design 03. Edited by Uwe J. Reinhardt, Philipp Teufel. In cooperation with edi—Exhibition Design Institute Hochschule Düsseldorf Peter Behrens School of Arts. Copyright 2020 av edition GmbH, Stuttgart, Verlag für Architektur und Design.

New Exhibition Design 03 is for sale at NAi Booksellers.

Penelope Curtis, Dirk van den Heuvel
jo taillieu architecten
Goda Budvytyte
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
LEVS architecten, WDJARCHITECTEN, Hubert-Jan Henket

Art on Display 1949-69 is part of a series of exhibitions consisting of 1:1 models that focus on the specific qualities of the interior at the intersection of architecture and design.