Page 221

european museums in the 21st century: setting the framework (vol. 2) — 511

“Filip Berte | The Graveyard. Cities on the Edge,” Stadsmuseum Gent–STAM Ghent City Museum–STAM, Belgium (17th May–4th November 2012)

STAM, the new Ghent City Museum, opened its doors to the public on the 9th October 2010, but it has a much longer history. Its origins date back to 1823 when the Commission for Monuments and Cityscapes was formed in Ghent. Ten years later, the Commission initiated the founding of an archaeological museum, the ‘Musée Historique’. Members of the commission donated the first pieces of the collection themselves, and other collectors soon followed suit. This resulted in a highly heterogeneous group of objects—charters, manuscripts, coins and medals, archaeological relics, glass and ceramics, paintings, sculptures, pictures of cityscapes, furniture, musical instruments, and so forth. Ghent was the only unifying factor; a large number of the objects illustrated public life in the city before 1800, which naturally attracted the interest of the city council. In 1884, the museum was given its own building and curator and opened up to the public. In the early 20th Century, the city council decided to give the museum a new home in Bijloke Abbey, but these plans were considerably delayed by the First World War. The Bijloke Archaeological Museum was finally opened in 1928. The idea of setting up a new, contemporary city museum in Bijloke Abbey emerged in the late 1990s. By 1997, operations at Bijloke Archaeological Museum had been severely scaled down. A new purpose was sought for the building and its contents. In 2000, Gent Cultuurstad (Ghent Heritage Unit) was founded. One of its main tasks was to create a new city museum. Bijloke Museum closed its doors for the last time on the 11th September 2005 and the new museum opened in 2010. The STAM museum is located on the Bijloke site, a place closely linked to the history of Ghent. An infirmary was located here for over

750 years. This function ended in the early 1980s when, over the next few years, the site was transformed into a venue for cultural activities. Today, this includes the Bijloke Music Centre and art classes organised by Ghent University College. The opening of STAM was the final phase in this re-purposing of the site. The permanent exhibition circuit is located in Bijloke Abbey, the oldest parts of which date from the 14th century and a new wing designed by the city’s architect Koen Van Nieuwenhuyse, has been built; it hosts the museum’s entrance, the reception, the museum café, a terrace and the introduction space. During the planning stage for the new museum, several critical decisions had to be made regarding how the permanent collection would be displayed. STAM tells the story of Ghent chronologically but the story begins in the city of today; we move from the present to the past and then back to the present. For STAM, the city itself is its real treasure. The museum is conceived as a gateway to Ghent and aims at encouraging visitors to go out and discover the city for themselves, to form a new understanding of it. Wherever possible, the story is related through original objects and documents. This was—and is—only made feasible through working closely with other heritage institutions in Ghent and further afield. It was decided at an early stage that the permanent collection would be complemented by interactive multimedia displays, thereby increasing visitor involvement in the museum. A special role has been devoted to temporary exhibitions.

Profile for POLITECNICO DI MILANO-DPA

European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

Advertisement