Are National Museums of Protestant Nations Different?

Ellinoor Bergvelt
Department History of European Culture, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Ingår i: NaMu; Making National Museums Program; Setting the Frames; 26-28 February; Norrköping; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 22:4, s. 29–48

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Publicerad: 2007-09-19


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


I Although 19th-century national museums are supposed to be part of identity politics of the European nation-states; this was not the case in the Netherlands and Great Britain; at least not in the early part of the 19th century. Surprisingly; William I; the first king of the House of Orange-Nassau (1815-1840); never used art museums as part of his politics to unify his nation (consisting of the Northern and Southern Netherlands; nowadays the Netherlands; Belgium and Luxemburg): there existed municipal art museums in Antwerp and Brussels; and two (!); national art museums in the Northern part of the country; i.e. ‘s Rijks Museum (= National Museum; Amsterdam) and the Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen (= Royal Cabinet of Paintings; The Hague); also known as the Mauritshuis. No “master narrative” was told; nor had one location been chosen to do so. Also in Great Britain the possibilities of a national art gallery were not fully used. It was only after the reorganization of the National Gallery in 1855 that a clear policy was formulated. Protestantism might be one of the explanations for the “backwardness” of the British and Dutch art museums; compared to those in other countries.


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