About curating. Carin E.M. Reinders interviewed by klimt02

Published: 20.05.2016
Carin E.M. Reinders. Photo: Gerhard Witteveen Carin E.M. Reinders. Photo: Gerhard Witteveen
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
CODA Museum building.
CODA Museum building

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Hereby we publish the second of a group of interviews to 20 relevant curators and museum directors with the intention to give light and make known the task developed by all of them.
These interviews will be collected in a Serie under the title Selecting: communicating knowledge.

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Curator first came into use as meaning overseer, however in 21st century, a curator is probably best known as a ‘multitasked’ for a collection, what do you consider yourself in this position as a director...?
CODA’s contemporary art collection is based on the collection that the former Van Reekum Museum had been building up since 1978. It is subdivided into several smaller collections like paintings, sculptures and graphic art by Dutch and international artists, bookplates, artist’s books, and of course the jewellery collection, one of CODA’s spearheads. The jewellery collection gives an overview of the period from around 1960 until now. Besides Dutch jewellery, the collection also documents conceptual movements abroad. Pieces by Dutch designers like Emmy van Leersum, Gijs Bakker, Onno Boekhoudt, Françoise van den Bosch, Nicolaas van Beek, Marion Herbst, Ruudt Peters are found alongside the work of Caroline Broadhead from Great Britain and German artist Dorothea Prühl. Not only established designers are followed; young artists like Gésine Hackenberg, Stephanie Jendis, and Constanze Schreiber are also included.

In 2002, the Van Reekum Museum, the Historisch Museum Apeldoorn, the public library Apeldoorn and the Municipal Archive are merged into a new, independent foundation that is given the name CODA. At this point, ownership of the collections was transferred from the council of Apeldoorn to the foundation. On the basis of CODA’s sub-collections at that time I decided on a collection policy that is focussed on contemporary jewellery, works made of and on paper, and artist’s books. I also decided to collect from a broader and more (inter)national perspective. This new perspective makes following current developments essential. The topicality of the jewel, made in the here and now, is the most important criterion when it comes to acquiring. The intrinsic quality of the individual artwork is also important. Work lacking this quality will not be added to the CODA collection.

CODA’s jewellery collection does not only give an impression of the developments in jewellery design, but also shows how the relationship between the jewel and visual art, fashion and design has developed over the past decades. With thematic exhibitions and monographic presentations, CODA Museum continuously charts these developments. CODA’s jewellery collection consists of 6000 objects.    

CODA Jewellery collection. Photography by Rene Mesman

One of our aims is to present the jewel as an art object, as miniature sculpture with its own, intrinsic value. Of course it is true that a large number of objects can be worn. This is a unique added quality: this way you can carry the beautiful work with you and have it on you at all times. The definitions ‘body art’ and ‘body jewels’ are descriptive but fine words. A jewel for the body. We see the communicative power of jewellery as important added value: the telling of stories.

As a director I am on the basis of these developments and initiatives. I am the one responsible for the development of and acquisition for our collection and the way in which it is shown. And although I am not the expert in all fields I am also the ‘liaison officer’ that puts experts together on the projects we have planned. Sometimes these experts work at CODA Museum, but just as often we employ them for the duration of the project in mind.

  • Currently, CODA mainly acquires work that is conceptually and intrinsically strong and possesses visual museological value. Young, recently graduated artists are also followed.

Regarding to curatorial process, how does an idea usually start for a collection? And how do you develop it? 3. How has the work of a curator changed in the last years?
Collecting is a process that requires active involvement and effort. Collections of contemporary art and design are by definition open-ended, as they are aimed at the present and the future. It is a structural question that shows itself most clearly in context. Collecting modern and contemporary jewellery encompasses a vast domain, which means you need a steady hand when making choices. As a director I am responsible for the collections as a whole, the way in which it is composed and it’s consistency as such.
If you are responsible for the growth, quality and consistency of a collection, you should be well aware of the fact you only are a passant, a temporary influence within the ‘eternity’ of the collection. The work done by predecessors is of great importance. You cannot and should not disregard the weavings they have already made. Of course you do have your own, individual responsibility but always at the service of the collection.

CODA wants to be the jewellery museum of the Netherlands. With this in mind, CODA also aspires to give jewellery design a permanent and fully recognised place within visual art. In addition to exhibitions consisting of work from CODA’s own collection, monographic exhibitions and presentations based on specific (social) themes or materials are staged. In the next few years, the focus will be on following the so-called principal artists and on documenting developments by acquiring new objects. It follows that current developments and social trends will be monitored to this end. Currently, CODA mainly acquires work that is conceptually and intrinsically strong and possesses visual museological value. Young, recently graduated artists are also followed.

Thanks to the donation from the BankGiro Loterij, costume jewellery has firmly become an area of collecting for CODA Museum. This is not only very attractive when it comes to broadening the collection, part of the purpose is reaching a new audience; with costume jewellery we can capture the interest of (especially) young people, and ensure their participation. With financial support from SNS REAAL Fonds, the Dutch Jewellery Platform was launched. It allows people to enter into online conversations and debates about jewellery. Experts and enthusiasts share their own stories and experiences here, just like on Wikipedia. We will develop this platform further in collaboration with partners. These are developments and responsibilities I, as director of CODA, do not take lightly.

Views inside of the museum. Photography by Reidunn van Riessen

What do you thing is the most interesting thing that you helped to make happen?
CODA has taken the initiative in 2014 to construct Dutch Jewellery Platform, an interactive web application in which the stories behind a number of jewels from the collection are told. The purpose of the website is to make the jewellery collections of several museums accessible and at the same time offer an interactive podium for sharing stories about jewellery. With these initiatives, CODA wants to grow into the main national information centre on jewellery. The Dutch museums with a substantial jewellery collection entered into collaboration in 2010. The aim of this cooperation is to attune the various collections to one another and to secure them within the wider context of the Collectie Nederland. The app that CODA is developing is a result of this collaboration. The partners in this collaboration are the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch (SM’s), the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, and CODA Museum. I believe this to be of great importance if we are to document, preserve and tell the story and stories of both art jewellery and costume jewellery.

At the end of 2014 I submitted a plan to replace the existing display wall and to broaden the collection of art jewellery with costume jewellery to thus be able to address a larger, younger and more varied group of people. In 2015 we received a donation of € 255,000 – from the National Bank Giro Lottery to carry out these plans. In the same year Ms. Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, handed over the national collection of jewellery of more than 400 object as a long-term loan with the intention to convert this loan into a gift. With both gift from the Bank Giro Lottery and the loan from the government CODA Museum has acquired national status, recognition and acknowledgment.

Views inside of the museum

What is the favourite / dislike part of your work?
Due to government cuts the budgets in the Netherlands have shrunken drastically. This is not without consequences for the development of the collections of the Dutch museums. At the moment this is of course one of the larger disadvantages. But a great joy and inspiration still are the visits that I pay the artists and galleries. Talking with them about what is going on is such a great pleasure. With regard to the collection it is of course also a necessity but without exception I believe it to be the best part of being a director.

  • Visual art has many connections to current events and the society in which we live. Telling our visitors about it by means of contemporary jewellery adds a lot of value and meaning.

An exhibition, event, meeting... that has impressed you specially?
I don’t want to sound immodest but Renewed Past, the current exhibition at CODA Museum is such a rich, varied, inspiring and vivid one I’d like to mention it here. Renewed Past shows how themes, forms and techniques from the past play a new role in contemporary art. CODA Museum presents the jewellery of Evert Nijland combined with a broad selection of contemporary art made by 34 visual artists who work with elements and symbolism from western (art) history and/or historical techniques and crafts. On show until 28 August. www.coda-apeldoorn/museum/vernieuwd-verleden offers a wonderful impression.

 Evert Nijland pieces at CODA Museum

How do you feel curating contemporary jewellery?
I never thought I would be professionally involved in contemporary jewellery. This particular part of the visual arts gives me such a lot of pleasure. We closely follow the developments in especially north-western part of Europe and the developments are very interesting. Visual art has many connections to current events and the society in which we live. Telling our visitors about it by means of contemporary jewellery adds a lot of value and meaning.

CODA Director Carin E.M. Reinders (1959) studied Art History and Archaeology at the University of Utrecht. After several years as a policy officer of Fine Arts in Almelo and a year as a lecturer of art history at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede she became director of the Stedelijke Musea Zutphen in 1987. In 1996 she moved to Tilburg to become director of the Dutch Textile Museum. In 2002, Carin Reinders was appointed director of CODA. She has been managing director of CODA since 2006. Carin lives in Apeldoorn, the Netherland. She is married and is mother of Elizabeth (1991) and Beatrijs (1994).