CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Online CODARTfocus: Royal Blue and Delft Silver

On Wednesday 9 December 2020 CODART organized an online CODARTfocus meeting on the occasion of two exhibitions: Royal Blue. William and Mary’s Finest Delftware at the Kunstmuseum in The Hague and Silver. Masterpieces of Delft Silver 1590-1800 at Museum Prinsenhof in Delft. These two exhibitions offered an excellent opportunity for an event with a focus on decorative arts.

Recording of the CODARTfocus

Click the image to watch the recording on Vimeo

The Exhibitions

Each exhibition focuses on a single material within the decorative arts – one on earthenware and the other on silver – while at the same time also presenting a thematic approach. Royal Blue in the Hague focuses on the Delftware that was made for the court of Stadtholder William III and Mary. For the first time, the finest Delftware from Royal collections in the Netherlands and England are brought together in an exhibition. The other exhibition, Masterpieces of Delft Silver presents an overview of the most beautiful silver objects produced in Delft and in addition pays attention to the social function of silver in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Highlights from the museum’s own leading collection of silver are supplemented with exceptional pieces on loan from both foreign and Dutch collections.

CODARTfocus on 9 December

During the CODARTfocus Femke Diercks, Head of Decorative Arts at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, talked with Hester Schölvinck, curator of the exhibition at Museum Prinsenhof Delft, and Suzanne Lambooy, Curator of Applied arts at the Kunstmuseum.

In several short videos recorded in both exhibitions Femke discussed three topics with Hester and Suzanne. The videos gave a good impression of both exhibitions and the choices that have been made while preparing them. During the focus, each short video was be followed by a live discussion between the curators.

The speakers focused on the choices that have been made while preparing the exhibitions. On the basis of three distinct themes, they discussed the differences and similarities between both exhibitions in terms of approach, development, experience and results. The first two topics addressed the manner in which the exhibitions relate to the permanent collections and exhibition programs, as well as the role of the exhibition design and the distinct architecture of both venues and its influence on the final presentation. The final topic was the targeted audience of the two exhibitions: both try to appeal to experts, as well as to a broad, general audience. Can exhibitions with a specialist focus complement exhibition programming, or do they not appeal to a broad enough audience?

Decorative arts are part of many museum collections, but the degree to which this part of the collection is displayed or researched varies. During this CODARTfocus, we learned from the experiences of Suzanne, Hester, and Femke, and invited the participants to join the conversation and share their experiences with decorative arts collections or exhibitions within their institutions. This subject is interesting for all CODART members, not just for those occupied with or responsible for decorative arts.