The “Kijkdepot” project ran from 16 December 2006 to 15 November 2009. Kijkdepot was something in between an art storage facility in which all the works that are not exhibited are safely stored, and an ordinary museum gallery. Paintings were hung in the gallery on storage racks. This meant that visitors could also see the back of a work, on which the traces of the techniques that had been used could be discerned, or from which it might be possible to derive some of the history of the work of art. Sculptures were exhibited in the open crates in which they had been transported. The works were displayed for a short time, and then removed from sight.
Anyone was permitted to submit an application to have a work of art from the storage facility displayed in its full glory in the museum for a short time. Applications were dealt with in the order in which they came in, so that a constantly changing collection of artworks was displayed in the gallery. An application had to consist of at least fifty words explaining why the person concerned wanted to see a particular work of art. The reason was displayed together with the work of art in the Kijkdepot.
The Kijkdepot was part of the Plug In project, (Plug In #18). Plug In is the collective name for the constantly changing ways of presenting the Van Abbemuseum collection, exhibited from April 2006 to November 2009. During this period the museum exhibited an independent exhibition in every Plug In gallery with its own theme or concept, and its own duration.
The dynamic approach of Plug In corresponded both to the labyrinthine construction of the new building and to the aim to highlight the collection from new and challenging perspectives. Artists and guest curators were invited by the museum to present their own versions as part of Plug In. As a result new resonances and contrasts constantly developed between the different galleries, which resulted in new narratives every time. Thus Plug In not only referred to the building block structure of the series of presentations, it was also an invitation to the visitor to “plug in” in the order he chose himself, depending on his interests and needs, and to get his imagination to work.
The Plug In concept was conceived by Charles Esche and Christiane Berndes. Christiane Berndes was responsible for its execution, together with the various different guest curators. The project was also supported by the Mondriaan Foundation.