The RKD’s 90th Birthday Exhibition

The RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History has been going for 90 years. To mark the occasion there will be an anniversary exhibition 90 years RKD. Acquisitions 1932-2022, focusing on the formation of the RKD’s collection. 

Archival material

The collection held by the RKD is huge and it consists of different sections which support one another. There is an impressive art-historical library, a large collection of auction catalogues, a picture collection containing five million reproductions of works of art, as well as some 750 archives of artists, art dealers, researchers and other people and organisations involved in the art world. Dozens of new acquisitions are added to the collection every year: some are gifts or bequests, but purchases are also made, for example when important artists’ letters turn up. Right now the RKD has about 2.5 kilometres of archival material to look after.

1. Album with photographs of Jonkheer Gevers van Marquette, 1885-1915, collection RKD
2. Mondrians horoscope, 1912, collection RKD, Piet Mondrian Archive

Acquisitions policy

Some areas of interest within the collection, such as Mondrian and De Stijl, developed more or less naturally. The collection of material gathered by technical researchers keeps on growing. Because the RKD looks after the archives of several artists from the Dutch Zero group, it was a logical step last year to add archival material from Armando to the holdings in The Hague. Whereas in the early days acquisitions were sometimes a matter of chance, in 2022 there is a clear acquisitions policy.

Anniversary exhibition

The anniversary exhibition 90 years RKD. Acquisitions 1932-2022 will display key objects to represent five main areas of the collection: De Stijl archives, ZERO archives, photo albums, technical documentation and archives of individual art historians. Although it is by no means a completely representative selection, it provides a fine cross-section of the wide range of research material which the RKD houses. From the lectern belonging to the art historian Max Friedländer, to the personal photographs of Theo and Nelly van Doesburg and Armando’s notebooks.

The exhibition 90 years RKD. Acquisitions 1932-2022 is on show from 24 May until 4 November at the RKD in The Hague.

1. Empire style secretary desk from the bequest of Max J. Friedländer, collection RKD, Max J. Friedländer Archive
2. Photo of Theo and Nelly van Doesburg and some other artists during the Internationales Kunstlerkongress Düsseldorf, May 1922, collection RKD, Theo and Nelly van Doesburg Archive