Van Abbe Museum broadens horizon by adding design collection

Van_Abbe_Museum Eindhoven photo credit wikimedia

The Van Abbe Museum will start collecting design in addition to its modern art collection. The Eindhoven museum took the first step on this new path with the acquisition of some fifty design pieces from the Lidewij Edelkoort collection.  

The Van Abbe Museum says the purchase of the items from the Edelkoort collection marks only the beginning of their new design collection. A guiding principle for the museum is whether the design pieces are in some way connected to Eindhoven. After all, technology, knowledge and design are the main pillars of the city.

Design Academy

An important motive for this decision is the Design Avademy in Eindhoven, directed by Edelkoort from 1999 until 2008. This made the Edelkoort collection the obvious starting point for the design collection, says the museum’s head of collections Steven ten Thije. “We spent a lot of time trying to find a suitable approach to the acquisition of design, and the offer of the Edelkoort collection was the best answer to our question”.

Two disciplines

After 86 years of focusing exclusively on modern art, the acquisition of the first design pieces feels like a huge step. At the same time, the museum finds that the distiction between autonomous design and visual art has become increasingly blurred, meaning that the two now go together quite well.

Edelkoort expresses her enthusiasm for the merging of the two disciplines. “A revolutionary step for a museum to connect and merge these two worlds, and bring them on an equal footing”, she says. “The interplay of the different disciplines raises questions about the larger social transitions and disruptions currently ocurring. Questions on issues such as climate change, migration, racism, loneliness and melancholia”.


Steven ten Thije, the Van Abbemuseum’s head of collections, says that the exhibition does not only investigate the interplay of the two disciplines, but also raises the very question of what a collection actually is.

“By definition, a collection is the accumulation of diverse but related objects. A collection enables the discovery of relationships and meanings by playing around with their differences and similarities. It helps to see things in perspective, to revisit them, to discover new connections or to understand the significance of familiar phenomena”, says Ten Thije.

Dutch Design Week

The Van Abbe museum opens the new exhibition, ‘The collection is…’ on October 8th. It will show pieces from the Edelkoort collection together with other exhibits from the Van Abbe Museum, and will run until November 6th. This means it will happily coincide with the Dutch Design Week, held in Eindhoven from October 22nd until October 30.

Autonomous Design

The Edelkoort collection consist of pieces by autonomous designers, often students or teachers at the Design Academy. Prominent pieces in the colection are by Jurgen Bey, Piet Hein Eek and Hella Jongerius, amongst aothers. The museum says about Lidewij Edelkoort: “As a world-renowned trend forecaster, former director of the Design Academy Eindhoven, design curator and collector and activist, Edelkoort’s voice is leading in recent design history.”
Source: Studio040
Translated by: Greta
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