CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Speakers' Corner

As there is no opportunity this year to hold a live Speakers’ Corner during a CODART congress, we invited three CODART members to share their questions through video.

Bert Watteeuw of the Rubens House in Antwerp delves into the history of disability in galleries and museums, and explores ways in which curators can help shape this history.

From the Bulgarian capital Sofia we have Dobromira Terpesheva and Rosena Ivanova, two new CODART members, present the collection of the New Bulgarian University. The core of the collection consists of Dutch and Flemish art and has only been researched with limited academic tools and expertise leaving the curators with even more questions.

Pascal Ennaert of the Vlaamse Kunstcollectie (Flemish Art Collection) addresses the issue of image licensing by using their recent website on Pieter Bruegel the Elder as an example. During this project he received no less than 22 different copyright indications for just 44 paintings.

We hope that this online Speaker’s Corner will spark as much response as the ones we annually hold during CODART congresses. Don’t hesitate to contact the speakers and share your thoughts, suggestions and questions. You can do so by leaving a message underneath each video.

Canonizing the unorthodox: disability in the museum

Bert Watteeuw, Rubenshuis / Rubenianum


The audio is unstable for the first half minute of the video. This doesn’t affect Bert’s talk.

Taking the extraordinary 1654 example of an early modern amputee as its starting point, the talk will explore ways in which curators and art historians can co-write disability history in galleries and museum. As Rosemarie Garland-Thomas noted “the history of disabled people in the world is in part the history of being on display, of being visually conspicuous while being socially and politically erased”. Curators have a crucial role to play in shaping that “history of being on display”.

Searching for Context. The UniArt Gallery Collection

Dobromira Terpesheva and Rosena Ivanova, UniArt Gallery, Sofia

UniArt Gallery houses the European Art collection of New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria. The core of that collection consists of Dutch and Flemish art thus making UniArt one of the few galleries in the Balkans with such artworks. Studies and restoration have uncovered details about the stories of the artworks. In the last years we have worked with the limited academic tools at our disposal to produce some more data and we have been surprised by the layers of meaning and subject matters of this collection. Unfortunately the lack of expertise in the area in Bulgaria has left us with more questions than answers.

We need the help of the community of experts of CODART so the collection can be properly studied, analyzed and presented. One of the main challenges we face is how we can interpret and understand the painting when we look from the lens of a culture so far removed from the historical and socio-economical context in which the Dutch and Flemish artworks were created. As we look for a way to expand our knowledge about the collection we would like to present our artworks and ask for your help to better understand them.

The catalogue of the UniArt Gallery collection is available for download. A selection of artworks is also available on the museum website.

Museums and public domain, a disruptive story

Pascal Ennaert, Vlaamse Kunstcollectie vzw/Flemish Art Collection

Last year, in response to the Bruegel year, the Flemish Art Collection published a website on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. As there are more works of Bruegel outside of our country than in Belgium, we were dependent on the goodwill of museums from around the world. We didn’t want to offend the museums and, for that, we wanted to respect the conditions the museums gave us to show reproductions on our website. We’ve asked for reproductions of Bruegel’s works from 44 museums or institutions and we’ve got 22 different kinds of copyright-indications for an artist that died 450 years ago. Seven museums didn’t care to deliver. Only five museums delivered a clear CC 0 or public domain license. Half of the museums delivered the most heavy Creative Commons licenses. CC BY NC ND or SA. Several museums used the copyright-sign together with a Creative Commons license.