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Street Art Museums of Amsterdam

Following today's article in Creators.Vice, I have been receiving calls and research questions on whether street art be taken of the streets.

Here's my comment, as street art collector and founder of the first and so far the only recognised museum of street art in Amsterdam. It is true that the NDSM collection is coming along nicely and will make a fine addition to Amsterdam's offer, as well as MOCO's popularity owing to aggressive marketing, but the only collection that exists today and is maintained as living street art is at SAMA.

“Is it right to move street art from the streets to the museums? In the context of “taking a piece of wall” and putting into the museum - definitely not, especially if the artist is not rewarded or financially compensated for it. It is not illegal, but it is unethical. If the museum institution acquires the piece legally, just like with normal art, I don’t see why not. Any form of promotion to the artist and acknowledgement of his work is good. The other side of your question is the new Street Art Museums and their formats.

The reason I started SAMA collection was to research and experiment with precisely the issues that come out of questions such as yours. If you follow the original path and evolution of graffiti into street art as we know it today, it does belong on the streets not on the canvas in the ‘locked room’ and it is free for everyone. In this case not many even newly formed Street Art Museums qualify within those ethics. On the other hand, it is impossible to include democratically everyone into a collection and allow everyone to paint everywhere everything they want. In the neighbourhood such as Nieuw-West, it would not work for many social and political reasons. Not everyone agrees with street art still and eagerly welcomes it in their streets. In such case, it seems to be a reasonable option to create space that could be run as a museum, outside of public view, thus allowing the freedom of creation.

Again, this brings us back to canvas in the locked room. Is this street art? I would go - NO. But it is art by the artists who worked on the streets and they show their skills, imagination and message, only this time on a canvas. As for the Real Street Art it lives on the streets, and therefore our collection lives on the streets. It is a carefully designed path, the artworks are made with agreement of local residents and all urban stakeholders, most of the artworks have limited life time - are ephemeral and therefore have an added value of urgency to be experienced. This makes street art what it is - exciting.”

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