The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp studies the origin and history of its own collection.
Central to the study of the history of the collection are the museum's acquisitions policy and the important role of donors. Donations and bequests by private individuals have helped define today's museum collection. Many of these historical donors were, for that matter, quite familiar with the institution and its holdings. Quite often they were involved professionally with the workings of the museum, be it as public servants, as art dealers or otherwise. Others held positions within the museum itself or came into regular contact with the institution through their membership of sophisticated circles and artistic societies. Their contributions to the collection were inspired not only by the examples provided by the museum's exhibitions and purchases, or the policies of its curators, but also by a sense that there were lacunae in the official acquisitions policy.
This research focuses primarily on individual sponsors of the museum. What was the nature of the relationships between artists, art dealers, curators and other art enthusiast who made up the socio-cultural environment of KMSKA? An account of their role in Antwerp's cultural life sheds light on the contemporary societal role of the museum. It is thanks to the personal preferences of influential donors such as the Franck family and baron Ludo van Bogaert-Sheid that some important subcollections saw the light of day.
The research relies largely on KMSKA's in-house archives. This extensive collection of documents includes acquisition records and minutes of board meetings, as well as unique correspondence with donors. In addition, archival sources of other institutions are studied.
The research results will be published in 2014 in a follow-up publication to the 2008 book on the history of the museum.
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