The Museum of Non-Essential Art opens in Amsterdam

Leon Caren and Bas Morsch – Photo by Bart Grietens

On Wednesday, 12th May, the Museum Voor Niet-Essentiële Kunst (Museum of Non-Essential Art) will open its doors in the heart of Amsterdam. The museum features a curated selection of items from non-essential stores. Leading artists Lonneke van der Palen, Annegien van Doorn, Alice Wong, Daniëlle van Ark and Julian Hetzel made work especially for the museum with products and materials from retail chains such as Ikea, Action and Primark. All works are for sale, which means that the Museum of Non-Essential Art is officially a shop and can therefore be opened.

The museum was set up by culture platform We Are Public, in response to the corona policy. “I can go to any shop with my child, but I can’t borrow a book from the library or visit a cultural institution. Why can we shop in the Kalverstraat and not go to the museum? Art is important for our well-being: it can move, offer comfort and lead to new perspectives. Yet the priority of the policy lies elsewhere. Apparently art and culture do not even fall under “non-essential”, we find that worrisome. It’s time for some action! ”, Said initiators Leon Caren and Bas Morsch, founders of We Are Public.

Art versus commerce 

The Museum of Non-Essential Art is officially a shop, where corresponding corona rules apply. However, the experience is entirely museum-worthy. The museum showcases carefully curated items from non-essential stores as ready-made, from rainbow slippers to shiny toothbrush holders. Artworks will be added to this throughout the growing exhibition. The works were created especially for the project by leading artists, created with materials from non-essential stores. Leon Caren: “It’s about commerce versus art: what are we allowed or not allowed to look at under the current measures? To a bath slippers, but not to a Rothko? How is this assessment made, and what is it based on? With this project we want to make people think about what is essential and what is not, and what place art has in our society. ”

Museum of Non-Essential Art is @droog Amsterdam, Staalstraat 7-B,  1011 JJ Amsterdam

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