Eva-Maria Troelenberg – CHIP Lecture Spring 2018

CHIP_Lecture_Spring_2018_Mshatta_poster_webMshatta and the Invention of Islamic Art as a Modern Concept

The ornamented façade of Mshatta was once part of a so-called early Islamic "desert palace" that was built around the mid-8th century AD in present-day Jordan. In the early twentieth century it came to Berlin as a gift of the Ottoman sultan. Today it has its place in the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin and is not just one of the major monumental exhibits on the Museum Island - it is also a central keystone for the history of Islamic art which emerged as a scholarly discipline and as a museological field of interest just around the time of Mshatta's discovery.

In my talk I will trace the modern history of Mshatta and its perception. This will focus particularly on the period between Mshatta's first descriptions by Western travelers around 1840, to its musealisation in Berlin and then to its destruction during WWII and subsequent reconstruction.

This object-biography will be filtered through the paradigms of what was a crucial century of museum history and intellectual discourse. It is a telling case study for concepts of art history, museology and cultural heritage that collectively inform how non-European art and culture was perceived and appropriated by and discussed through museums and academia.

The lecture will also show how this is connected to a more recent turn in contemporary art, since the concept of "Islamic Art" and its object-biographies have been picked up by artists such as Walid Raad or Mariana Castillo Deball, effectively connecting a long intellectual history to contemporary aesthetic practice.

Eva-Maria Troelenberg is professor for modern and contemporary art history at Utrecht University. Between 2011 and 2018, she was head of the Max-Planck-Research Group "Objects in the Contact Zone - The Cross-Cultural Lives of Things" at Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut. Her publications include the monograph "Mshatta in Berlin - Keystones of Islamic Art" as well as the edited volume "Images of the Art Museum. Connecting Gaze and Discourse in the History of Museology" (with Melania Savino).

Tuesday 17 April, 2018
15:45 - 17:00, followed by drinks
UCU Auditorium
Everyone is welcome!


Mariana Castillo Deball. Mschatta Fassade, 2014. Textile paint on cotton, fabric, metal track. 5.5 × 38 m. Installation views of the exhibition Parergon. Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin Germany, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Photo by © Thomas Bruns.

Felicity Bodenstein – CHIP Lecture Fall 2017

chip_lecture_felicity_bodenstein_fall_2017Amongst the most iconic pieces of the over 4000 objects taken from Benin City in 1897 in the wake of a British « punitive expedition » are the brass and ivory representations of the Iyoba or Queen Mother related to the historical figure of Idia, mother of Oba Esigie of Benin (c. 1504-1550). In this presentation I will look at how these globally dispersed pieces work in different spheres of heritage making: royal, local, national and global. As well as presenting empirical data about the history of the display of these objects I would like to relate their museography to the history of value theory and to issues of commodification, appropriation and return or restitution. By looking at how heritage values intersect with questions of representation and ownership we will try to understand the construction of hierarchy and the negotiation of asymmetries as inherent to heritage-making processes.

Art historian Felicity Bodenstein, Technische Universität, Berlin, was postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 2015-2016, where she conducted the research she will be talking about in her UCU Lecture.

Thursday 2 November 2017
15:45 – 17:00
UCU Auditorium

Ruud Priem - CHIP Lecture Spring 2017

UCU_CHIP_Poster_BrugesHosting the world in a UNESCO World Heritage City: a tale of balancing acts from the Bruges museums

The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bruges in Belgium has a tremendous reputation but is rather small in size: 118.000 people live in the greater Bruges area, whereas the historic city centre accommodates no more than 23.000 inhabitants. A staggering eight million foreign guests flock the city centre annually, attracted by the rich cultural heritage sites, monuments and art that Bruges has to offer. The Bruges museum collections are among the most important in Europe and certainly deserve a visit. Musea Brugge consists of 14 museums located throughout the city of Bruges which attract 1.1 million visitors per year. Two of these museums are historical hospitals collectively known as the Hospitaalmuseum: the Saint John’s Hospital Museum (Sint-Janshospitaal) and Museum of Our Lady of the Pottery (OLV Ter Potterie). Ruud Priem is responsible for managing both museums. Saint John’s Hospital Museum (also known as Memlingmuseum) has an 800-year history of caring for pilgrims, travelers and the sick. It is one of the oldest preserved hospital buildings in the world and presents a picture of hospital life in the past. Its collection still comprises many art works specifically made for- or donated to the hospital. These include a famous ensemble of paintings by the great master of the Flemish Primitives, Hans Memling: his Shrine of St Ursula (c. 1489), in particular, ranks among the most highly esteemed works of art in Belgium. The Museum of Our Lady of the Pottery is housed in an old infirmary. It displays the eclectic collection (including outstanding silverware) accumulated down the centuries by the Augustinian congregation that still actively uses the premises. Many miracles have been attributed to the 13th century white limestone statue of Our Lady of the Pottery, one of Bruges' oldest preserved statues, placed in the fine adjoining baroque church. The miracles are detailed in several stained-glass windows, wall tapestries, and a miracle book.

The overwhelming public interest of tourists in the art and culture of Bruges is a blessing for the local museums although, of course, one that is not without its challenges. The city council has recently approved the building of a future exposition hall, a new depot, and a pavilion to host the ticketing offices, in addition to the already completed renovation of the famous Gruuthuuse Palace. Museum staff are currently tasked with the development of an ambitious exhibition program and a reorganization of the museum. In his talk Ruud Priem will address some of the challenges Musea Brugge faces in presenting important ensembles of art works in their cultural historical context, both now and in the future. He will discuss the plans Musea Brugge have for the renovation and refurbishment of current museum locations, the ideas for new buildings, and share some plans for research projects, future presentations and upcoming exhibitions. And he will also explain how Bruges tries to balance the long-term care required for a vulnerable world heritage site and accommodating massive numbers of visitors.

25 April, 2017 - 5pm
University College Utrecht, Auditorium

Guest speaker

Ruud Priem, Director/Chief Curator of the Hospitaalmuseum, Bruges, will give the Spring 2017 CHIP lecture on the challenges the museums in Bruges face in accommodating massive public interest, while safeguarding the continuity of care for the city’s precious monuments and art collections.


Ruud Priem ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) studied Art History in Italy and The Netherlands, at the universities of Padova and Utrecht, graduating with honours. He worked for the Dutch Post-graduate School for Art History in Utrecht, the research institute of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and as Curator of 17th-century Dutch Painting at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. From 2001-2010 he was responsible for a series of exhibitions on the Rijksmuseum’s collections of Dutch 17th-century art, which travelled to museums worldwide and attracted a total of 1,7 million visitors. From 2011-2014, Ruud was Director and Chief Curator of Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, and worked as an independent museum professional. In September 2015 he was appointed Chief Curator of the Hospitaalmuseum (the collective name for St. John’s Hospital Museum /Memling Museum & Museum of Our Lady of the Pottery) in Bruges. Ruud has published on a wide range of subjects, but is especially interested in the history of collections in the Low Countries between 1775-1850, and in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting. Occasionally he also works as a policy advisor and guest curator of international exhibition projects outside of Bruges, and serves as board member of the Rembrandt Society, FARO Flemish Interface Centre for Cultural Heritage and as advisor to the Mondriaan Fund, among other functions.

CHIP Lecture Fall 2016


Unequal chances in disputes about art: The return of colonial objects vs. that of Nazi-looted art, by Jos van Beurden

Five centuries of European colonialism have witnessed a massive one-way traffic of cultural and historical objects from colonial territories to metropoles and their museums in Europe. From our present point of view, the people in the countries of origin had to let go most objects involuntarily. The circumstances in which they were taken were qualified by violence, inequality and exploitation. In the twelve years that the Nazi regime was in power, hundreds of thousands of art works disappeared from within Germany and from the countries occupied by the Nazis. For the owners the circumstances were even worse since the confiscation

Over the years many Nazi looted art works have been restituted to their owners. The 1998 Washington Conference Principles for dealing with Nazi-looted art have been quite helpful in this. The number of colonial cultural objects returned to their country of origin remains meagre by comparison. The discussion about the future of colonial cultural objects has been long in a state of impasse.

In the Fall 2016 UCU CHIP Lecture, Jos van Beurden discusses why the return of colonial cultural objects has lagged behind so much, and what can be learned from the way disputes about Nazi-looted art works have been dealt with for disputes about colonial cultural objects. He offers evidence about the volume of the one-way traffic and concerning the attitude in former colonies and former metropoles towards this issue. He proposes to ‘translate’ the 1998 Washington Principles into principles for dealing with disputes about colonial cultural objects.

Jos van Beurden ( is a research journalist with broad experience in Africa and Asia. Presently he is Ph.D researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam. His topic is the future of colonial cultural objects. He published The return of cultural and historical treasures: The case of the Netherlands (2012).

October 25, 2016
UCU Auditorium

Sven Dupré - CHIP-CONNECT lecture Spring 2016


This spring’s CHIP lecture will be given by Sven Dupré, recently appointed as Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology at the department of Art History of Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam and a member of UU’s Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities.

Sven Dupré is actively involved in research in technical art history at the Ateliergebouw (Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science - NICAS) in Amsterdam, where the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the University of Amsterdam combine their knowledge in the field of restoration and preservation of art objects. He is the Scientific Director of the project ‘Technique in the Arts: Concepts, Practices, Expertise, 1500-1950’, supported by the European Research Council. In his CHIP lecture he will speak about this project and his future plans.

Tuesday 22 March 2016
UCU Auditorium

Gaye Sculthorpe – CHIP-CONNECT lecture Fall 2015


‘Exhibiting difficult histories: Indigenous Australia at The British Museum 2015’

‘The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation’ mounted at the British Museum earlier this year dealt directly with topics such as colonialism, violence on the frontier and repatriation of objects. This lecture will discuss some of the challenges of presenting these histories, engagement with communities in Australia and the varied reception of the exhibition by different audiences.

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe is Curator, and Section Head of Oceania at the British Museum. She was the curator of ‘The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation’ at the British Museum in 2015. Prior to taking up her present position, she worked in Australia at Museum Victoria (Melbourne) and the National Native Title Tribunal.

Symposium: Compelling Museum/ Reconfiguring Contemporary Art and Heritage Practice – PUUR thesis group - 3 June 2015

Students from the thesis group ‘The Compelling Museum’ (Spring 2015) will share some of the findings from their bachelor theses; alumni will provide insight into research after UCU; and faculty will present their ideas for the PUUR thesis group ‘Reconfiguring contemporary art and heritage practice’ (Spring 2016). For the full program, please click here.

Wednesday 3 June, 2015
Dining Hall Lounge

CONNECT - CHIP Pre-internship program - 2 June 2015


What does an internship in an arts or heritage institution add to your experience of professional life? And what material does practical engagement of this kind yield for further analysis and reflection? Experts, alumni, faculty and students bring various perspectives on orientation, skills, and practical matters in this domain. For the full program, please click here.

Tuesday 2 June, 13:30-17:00
Dining Hall Lounge

Julia_Noordegraaf_poster_30b1CHIP Public Lecture – April 2015 - Julia Noordegraaf

Julia Noordegraaf will deliver a lecture on her current research project, ‘Archiving Interactive Media’, and the crucial question of how can interactive digital media, such as digital art, games or websites, can best be conserved for the future.

Julia Noordegraaf is Professor of Heritage and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She studied Culture and the Arts at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, where she completed her PhD. Her publications include Strategies of Display. Museum Presentation in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Visual Culture (2004). She is Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity (UvA), and Staff Member of the Amsterdam School of Heritage and Memory Studies.

14 April 2015
Auditorium UCU


Chip event November 2014

Masterpiece, Investment or Trophy
On the Cultural, Economic and Social Value of Art
Thursday 13 November

Open Lecture - 19:30 - Voltaire C
Boris Cornelissen Sotheby's London Contemporary Art Department, UCU Alumnus

CHIP event December 2013

chip_event_december_2013_200x283Heritage research: state of the art
Thursday 19 December

Seminar – 13:30 – 15:30 – Voltaire A
Valerie Gersen Department of Art History, Utrecht University
Lana Askari Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, Manchester University
Alice Christophe University of East Anglia

Lecture – 15:45 – 17:30 – Voltaire E
Laura Kraak (University of Western Sydney)
From Ruins to Rituals, From Places to People: How Human Rights entered Cultural Heritage

Everyone is welcome!

What are the current trends in research on heritage? How do approaches from art history, history, anthropology, and museum studies enrich one another in exploring this dynamic area of culture? Among those working in this field are several UCU alumni. On Thursday 19 December you are warmly invited to join a seminar, 13:30 – 15:30, in Voltaire A; and lecture, 15:45 – 17:30, in Voltaire E, on the state of the art in this field.

CHIP event September 2013

chip_event_september_2013_200x283Thursday 19 September, 19:30, 2013
AHMS Lecture - The New Rijksmuseum
Tim Zeedijk, Head of Exhibitions, New Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Location: Auditorium

The New Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam reopened in April this year after nearly a decade of renovation. What was it like to bring Pierre Cuypers' monumental building (1885) into the twenty-first century, and simultaneously re-organise the display of the world-famous Dutch seventeenth-century art and historical collections? Utrecht art historian and current Head of Exhibitions at the Rijksmuseum, Tim Zeedijk, will speak on the rewards, challenges and opportunities of this monumental operation.

CHIP event April 2013


Maria Hlavajova, Artistic director of Basis voor Actuele Kunst (BAK), Utrecht
Lecture on the Former West project – 24 April 2013

Have you ever thought about what you want to learn? What you need to know in this world? These questions seem to play a leading role in the life of Maria Hlavajova, the artistic director of the BAK and the curator and director of the ‘Former West’ project. Along with an eight-person team of artists, curators, theorists, art historians and critics, she embarked on a long-term international research, education, publishing and exhibition project called ‘Former West’ (2008-2014). This project aims to reflect upon the way the world has changed since 1989 from within the field of contemporary art and theory.

Maria Hlavajova commenced her lecture about ‘Former West’ with an impressive anecdote of her time at college in her country of birth: Slovakia. In 1989, she and her classmates fired the university professors and initiated their own ‘improvised university’. They asked themselves what they needed to know in the ruptured world of East and West, of communism and democracy. Hlavajova and her fellow students invited various scholars and theorists to teach at their university and to engage in discussions concerning the future of the then changing and shifting world. One of these scholars was Jacques Derrida who taught them that democracy cannot work because it is intertwined with capitalism, which is a corrupt system.

This act by Hlavajova and her fellow students reflects the way the world was transforming in 1989. That year not only marks the end of communism in Eastern Europe, but also the start of shifting world identities and philosophies. The students at Hlavajova’s university were from the East but felt different from their predecessors - the historical political division between East and West no longer made sense to them.

‘Former West’ can be seen as a development of the sentiment that was felt among the Eastern college students into a long-term project. The project problematizes the widely used term ‘former East’, by arguing the need for its counterpart: the term ‘former West’. ‘Former West’ rethinks the global histories and narratives constructed by the Western world as the borders of the world partitioning vanished after 1989. And it stimulates thinking about what the world could look like through the renegotiation of power relations. Art is used as a means for exploring what Hlavajova calls the ‘urgencies’ of what we need to know in this world.

Hlavajova argued that art can teach democratic intuitions and can change people’s thinking. Art is imaginative and can enable new perspectives on the world. Art can move across time, whereas politics can only operate now. Therefore, Hlavajova argues that the function of art is to show what the world could possibly be.

To illustrate the changes that have been introduced to the world since 1989, she outlined the transformations in the concepts of visual arts, their respective institutions, the people working in the art field and the respective products of art. Visual art has been named contemporary art, artists have become cultural practitioners, exhibitions have turned into projects, curators are the new exhibition organizers, catalogues are called publications; and readers or consumers or spectators are the new viewers of art. Taking these changes into consideration, what future lies ahead of us? How can art maintain itself, particularly now the state has stopped funding many art initiatives? And, can art exist outside of ‘the system’? One of the metaphors introduced by Hlavajova was that of vegetables. It takes the same persuasive power needed to make a young child eat vegetables to convince people of the necessity of art.

Hlavajova’s inspiring lecture served as a great exercise of reflection on the world that we live in. What is going on? What are institutions doing? Who is the public? How do art, institutions and the public relate to each other? These questions were at the heart of the round table discussion afterwards, and left the participants in the event enthusiastic and curious about the future of art and its embeddenedness in society.

Berber Meindertsma, Jesse Voetman

CHIP event October 2012

chipeventoct2012‘What is an ethnographic collection / museum today?’
Wayne Modest, Head of Curatorial Department of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam

The question “What is an ethnographic collection/ museum today?” was the departure point of the guest lecture by Tropenmuseum Head of Curatorial Department, Dr. Wayne Modest, for the CHIP event held in early October 2012 at University College Utrecht. It is a difficult question, he said when he commenced his lecture. He proved his point by making the audience consider the question itself, as well as asking several people in the audience what they thought an ethnographic museum might be. What are such museums as the Rijksmuseum voorVolkenkunde (the National Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden or the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, about? What do they display? These indeed appeared to be difficult questions for most of the audience, whose silence, questioning expressions or hesitant answers seemed to confirm a degree of insecurity.

Perhaps this hesitation was also partly due to Modest’s impressive working experience in the field of museums: his PhD thesis, for example, developed what he calls a ‘Caribbean museology’, examining how museums re/present the history and legacy of slavery.These stories furthermore served to elucidate a fascination for objects, including clothing, whereby each and every object or piece of clothing conveys meaning or has a story to tell. This density of meaning comes about because of their openness to interpretation. Therefore, according to Modest, everyday objects have as much to tell as art works. They all refer to their users, their designers and their creators: people.

This view of objects closely relates to Modest’s perspective on what ethnographic museums and collections are about: humanity. The artifacts in ethnographic collections refer to the people behind them, their cultures and their perspective on the world. Contrary to the views of many people, Modest believes that the Tropenmuseum decision to include contemporary art in the collection is logical. He feels that contemporary art is powerful in representing present-day society, its issues, its citizens and how they perceive the world. Contemporary art reflects on human questions, which is precisely what ethnology museums are about.

Wayne Modest’s lecture was highly inspiring and eye-opening for an understanding of ethnology museums and their collections today. His thought-provoking questions served as a great warm-up for the round-table discussion on the UCU Cultural Heritage Program (CHIP) afterwards, to which PhD candidate Lieke Wijnia (UCU 2006), and recent interns Liesbeth Dingemans, Jesse Voetman, and Kanjampa Bureepakdee, contributed.

Berber Meindertsma, intern with the Department of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Fall 2012

CHIP-Event Talk: Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht

chip history ruud priemAt the CHIP-event in March 2012, the artistic director of Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht, Ruud Priem, was invited to give a talk on the museum, its collections, challenges and importance in our modern-day Dutch society.

In the first place, the Catharijneconvent houses Christian art that has been preserved in The Netherlands over the centuries; ranging from early medieval objects to contemporary art. It houses the largest collection of medieval art in the Netherlands and owns some spectacular pieces, such as richly embellished medieval codices, highly valuable ecclesiastical objects and masterpieces from the sixteenth- and seventeenth century. However, Museum Catharijneconvent’s function goes beyond exhibiting art, as the museum is trying to actively preserve our national Christian heritage.

The museum holds a very important place in the current debate on Christianity in our modern day society. Whereas in the previous century Christian values were more intertwined with society, nowadays our society is getting more and more secular, and the new generation is hardly aware of the Christian stories behind our cultural traditions; we have two days off during Whitsun, we celebrate Sinterklaas, we collect eggs at Easter, but why? This knowledge of Christian stories is at the risk of being lost. Museum Catharijneconvent actively tries to preserve this knowledge for future generations; not only by telling these stories, but also to show certain objects within their original function. For example, the cloak and staff of a bishop are not just shown as beautiful objects that are worth preserving, but are displayed in their original context. The museum realizes these objects were never intended to be in a museum; so they are not displayed as such.

chip history catherijneconventThis societal function not only pertains to the preservation of stories, but also to the literal preservation of our Christian heritage. Every week, two churches have to close their doors, but what happens with their interior? Often, people that were involved within the church are personally attached to these objects; by means of gifts or collections, the churchgoers families collectively saved up for the church’s interior. These people would not want their objects to fall into the wrong hands; therefore, the museum started the HRRE-program: Handreiking Roerend Religieus Erfgoed (Manual for Moveable Religious Heritage), in which these matters are discussed.

Because of the focus on the preservation of national heritage, in combination with the art historical research conducted, an internship at Museum Catharijneconvent is an excellent option for UCU-students following a track in Art History and Museum Studies, combined with History and/ or Religious Studies.

(Valerie Gersen, class of 2011, Member of the Alumni Advisory Group)

Launch of the CHIP


On 22 February 2011, the Dean of University College Rob van der Vaart officially launched the CHIP. In his opening address, the Dean underlined the significant role of heritage in contemporary society, and its unique place in the UCU liberal arts and sciences curriculum. UCU students have the opportunity, through CHIP, to participate in and contribute to heritage institutions; and to select an aspect of this empirical work for further exploration and critical reflection in the research thesis.

Deciding what will be kept and transmitted to future generations, in which form, is one of the great challenges presented to each generation. The politics of the decisions taken, including financing, have a great impact on the public domain: citizens with free access to great public monuments and collections are differently positioned to those who must queue and pay for that privilege. Another mode of public engagement with this form of cultural property is through research and behind-the-scenes learning. CHIP students are very fortunate in having the opportunity to research collection objects, to improve documentation and public access through database systems; to gain hands-on experience of collection management; to assist with exhibition production and public reception. Even better, this unique experience of the professional world of heritage is of great mutual benefit to both parties.