From the museum press release, 26 March 2014
From 25 April, British writers and philosophers Alain de Botton & John Armstrong will be showing in the Rijksmuseum what art can mean to visitors. And not so much from an (art-)historical point of view, but focusing rather on the therapeutic effect that art can have and the big questions in life that art can answer. In the exhibition Art is Therapy, De Botton (1969) and Armstrong (1966) will be commenting on 150 artworks on display in the Rijksmuseum galleries, from the Middle Ages right through to the 20th century, including the Asian Pavilion, but also on objects in the shop, café, cloakroom and entrance. They have also selected approx. 40 prints from the Rijksmuseum Print Room. The text boards have been designed by Irma Boom and added to the museum’s original ones. De Botton and Armstrong believe that these new captions shed an entirely new light on the Rijksmuseum collection. This exhibition will be the first time that the philosophers put their theories from their latest book Art as Therapy into practice.
De Botton and Armstrong feel that by providing the name of the artist, the material used, the period in which the object was made/created, etc., traditional museum text boards already suggest what the visitor should think about a certain object. The exhibition Art is Therapy, however, wants to question what the purpose of art is and highlight the therapeutic effect that art has on visitors who simply look at art and enjoy it. As far as the British philosophers are concerned, the focus should be less on where an art object comes from and who made it, and more on what it can do for the museum visitor in terms of issues that concern us all: love & relationships, work, status, memory and mortality. On the basis of the themes Fortune, Politics, Sex and Money prints are shown from the Rijksmuseum’s collection from the period 1485-1800. The theme of Memory shows very rare photographs of the 19th century, so called Daguerreotypes (c. 1840-1867).
The Art is Therapy exhibition, based on De Botton’s book Art As Therapy, will be accompanied by a catalogue, multimedia tour and museummap.