CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Room for Debate

Permanent Installations and the Societal Role of Museums

The conception of what a museum is – or rather should be – has evolved profoundly in the last decade. This shift is perhaps best visible when the new ICOM definition of a museum from 2022 is compared with the previous one, from 2007. What a museum is, according to ICOM, has not so much changed as expanded. While largely retaining the basic tasks of a museum as defined in 2007 (researching, collecting, conserving, studying/interpreting and exhibiting tangible and intangible heritage) the 2022 definition mainly elaborates on the ways in which these tasks should be carried out: thus, museums must now, for example, also be inclusive, foster diversity and sustainability, operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities.

This of course, has an impact on the way museums deal with presenting their permanent collections. All museum have different ideas about how Dutch and Flemish art of the fifteenth through the nineteenth century can be shown in a museum today. During this round table, the curators who presented their museum’s approach to permanent collection displays on Monday, will discuss – amongst other things – how the expanded societal role of museums has influenced their curatorial decisions and if they have encountered tensions between different categories of artistic values and their collaboration with external consultants for their permanent collection displays.