The Van Abbemuseum is for everyone. It tells and collects stories that connect art to the world around us. But those who look closely, see that these stories are usually told by one group of people: the staff of the museum. This population is often white, well-educated and over forty years old. Therefore, they are not a good reflection of society. Yet this small group creates programs that are supposed to be for the whole society. Is the museum really for everyone? And are the stories that the museum tells and collects actually about the world around us?
At the Van Abbemuseum, we believe that a larger, multifaceted group of people should be given the space to tell stories. That is why we started the Werksalon in 2017. The Werksalon is a three-year program in which we, together with a number of groups from the city of Eindhoven, investigate how the stories and perspectives that are not yet shared, can get a place in the museum. This makes the museum more fun, interesting and recognizable for more people.
Every season we invite a number of Eindhoven groups to the museum. Together with them we work towards an intervention within a year; each group develops its story and adds it to the collection presentation. During the joint meetings we take the following steps:
1. Think of a theme that the group members want to put on the agenda together.
2. Set up a small presentation in the Werksalon with images and objects that express the theme.
3. Make a banner with self-invented slogan or self-chosen quote. The result can be seen in the collection presentation, The Way Beyond Art.
4. Brainstorm, organize and implement an adaptation in the same collection presentation..
Mission and vision
You can see the Werksalon as a laboratory; it is a place where we experiment and where we gain new insights. We use these insights to make the museum a place that is accessible to everyone - regardless of your background, ideology, health, age or gender.
This year we are working together with three groups from Eindhoven: a mentor class from the International School Eindhoven, a group from the non-profit organization Vluchtelingen in de Knel and a group representing the foundation IamSHERO. On this page you will find more information about the three groups.
GROUP: INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL EINDHOVEN
If the museum is to be a reflection of the city, young people also belong. However, in practice, they usually do not come to the museum by themselves. This year we decided to work together with a group of students from the International School Eindhoven. Many of them are children of expats, and they have attended several schools in several countries, but now live in Eindhoven. What is keeping them busy? And what do they want to talk about in the museum?
GROUP: VLUCHTELINGEN IN DE KNEL
In the year 2017, nearly 15 thousand refugees applied for asylum in the Netherlands. How do you engage in a society if you cannot study, work, live or even be? Every person has the right to exist, says Vluchtelingen in de Knel. This Eindhoven non-profit organization is committed to protecting the basic rights of refugees. They help people who have been rejected by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), but cannot return to the country from which they fled. This might be because it is not safe there, because they are sick or because they do not have papers. In the Werksalon we are working together this year with a group of fifteen refugees and volunteers from Vluchtelingen in de Knel. With them we look for a way in which we can show their stories and perspectives in the collection presentation of the museum.
'We champion diversity,' is the slogan of IamSHERO. This organization, founded by women, invests in the empowerment of young women with a migrant background. Together with its growing network, IamSHERO organizes various activities in Eindhoven, such as lectures, workshops, training courses and panels. The foundation also offers an annual program for young women aged 17 to 23. These young women work on and discuss their dreams and goals with the help of an IamSHERO member. How can we make the dreams and goals of these young women visible in the museum?
The Werksalon is one of the ways to make the museum more inclusive. If you want to know what an inclusive museum does or means, then watch the video from STUDIO i below.