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Hello Street Art Museum Amsterdam!

My name is Vitória, I am here in Amsterdam following a master course in Museology and I will be, in the following months, helping SAMA to develop its Collection Policy Plan as part of my internship and master’s thesis (Reinwardt Academy).

I am a Brazilian that loves art, cities and its social dynamics. This love for cities started during my bachelor’s in Architecture and Urbanism, where I learned the importance of urban planning and cultural development and how those can completely change the quality of life of the city’s population. My interest in studying about museums came during an internship I did during my bachelor, working with exhibition design in a museum in Belo Horizonte - Brazil, called Espaço do Conhecimento UFMG, where I had the chance to gain a better understanding about the role of museums as cultural tools and its potential to promote social changes.

With the eager of delve into the museum and cultural heritage field I decided to come to Amsterdam to do the master of Museology in the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. During the classes in my master I was able to explore and experiment with new visions of heritage, considering future developments and new approaches - Antroposcene & Eco-Museums, Intangible Heritage - by learning to place collections and museums in a wider heritage and socio-political context.

Having this background, I felt really excited when I heard about the task of writing a Collection Police Plan for SAMA. A task that, in a way, combines all my fields of interest: art, city, architecture, museums and culture. A Collection Policy Plan is a public document that guides the development and management of a museum's collection. This document is common in many museums and important to stipulate the composition and significance of the collection, providing insights on what the institution aims to achieve using the collection as a tool. This is the first time I have contact with a street art collection, which makes this task much more interesting and challenging.

Daily Art Walk at "Smile" by Artist Stinkfish (CO) for De Vlught School, 2013

The street art uses the public space, as a democratic way of sharing art and culture in the urban environment. A city is composed by a set of relations, encounters, interactions of heterogeneous groups that together create, resist or/and renew the city's dynamics and its physical space. We can consider that street art interfere and, therefore, becomes part of these dynamics and, from the process of making the art piece, to its materialisation until its vanishing, it interferes in the production of a different city. The street art is subject to the constant changes that the city goes through and the awareness of this vulnerability and the importance of respecting its temporariness is what makes SAMA’s collection so different than what we would normally see in other museums.

SAMA’s collection is not only constituted by a diverse selection of street art pieces, but also includes documentation of the processes involved in making those pieces. Street art is not only the big painted murals and interventions present on the streets, but also the culture behind those art pieces. We can consider that street art is a combination of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Tangible cultural heritage is associated with the material cultural elements and it is, therefore, composed of palpable and concrete elements, for example works of art and buildings. The immaterial culture is related to the spiritual or abstract elements, for example, the knowledge and ways of doing. In this sense, it is also the role of the museum to take care of the immaterial character of street art, keeping also on its collection the know-how, methods, and cultural environment behind the movement.

Artist Btoy (ES) for SPOT Comunity, Schiphol Real Estate, 2018

With all the complexity behind a ‘street art collection’ there is still a need from the museum and the community to, somehow, preserve their pieces. Therefore, it is necessary to think outside the box and look for different ways of ‘conserving’ the street art pieces without trying to freeze the city that is intertwined with it. A way to achieve this can be through an intensive and high-quality registry of the collection and its environment using, for example, augmented and virtual reality, methods that are already being explored by SAMA. Thinking about the possible ways of preserving street art in its whole, keeping in mind the ethics behind the movement, is also something to be addressed in the Collection Policy Plan.

Having all this in mind (and much more), we are going to start working on this very exciting project and I hope to contribute, with my previous experiences and interests, to make this change on the museum’s view and approach to its collection.

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