Rijksmuseum Twenthe and the power of urgency.
Why was Rijksmuseum Twenthe [RMT] at the brink of closure in 2012? The review committee for national museums had given the museum an excellent rating just a year earlier. The National Council for Culture, on the other hand, no longer saw any justification for RMT to remain in existence in May of 2012. How could it be that two expert committees, so soon after each other, came to such different conclusions? One word recurs with great regularity in all subsequent analyses: visibility, or more precisely invisibility.
You could even read about it in RMT’s then mission statement: ‘Rijksmuseum Twenthe is like a hidden treasure in the eastern part of the country‘. For many in the Netherlands, Enschede is psychologically far away but to make it your mission to be hidden… The National Council for Culture further noted that the programme ambitions were very modest and certainly not international. It questioned who this museum was actually intended for and did not see an independent museum function for RMT anymore. The museum had to close.
Two weeks after this scathing opinion, a new director took office who wanted to make the museum visible again, more self-aware and bolder too. Not just in the region but throughout the Netherlands. A few months later, four surprising exhibitions opened and a spectacular opening party took place, attracting thousands of people in one weekend. Together with a completely rewritten policy plan and a major reorganisation, this was enough for the minister to give the museum another chance.
The discovery of the world. Exhibition on the Flemish Renaissance i.c.w. Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.