Belspo FED-tWIN HOME-AGE project

The collection of the KMKG-MRAH holds a vast number of objects from across the globe, dating from prehistory to the 20th century. Nevertheless, from its early conceptualization in 1885, the museum’s focus is to collect, preserve, study, and share the richness of applied arts from the South Netherlandish region. This focus led to a large and hybrid collection with a main body of 17th and 18th century objects tied to the history and roots of this territory. However, aside from the publication of a number of exhibition catalogues on sub-collections in the 1970’s, little scientific research has been done to date. Traditionally, these few catalogues primarily focus on the art historical context of the exhibited items; leaving other scientific disciplines as well as the large number of depot-items untouched. In recent years, several pilot studies and a previous BELSPO research project in collaboration with the UAntwerp showed that the depot contains high-level objects and object-groups which are awaiting discovery and scientific study.

The proposed HOME-AGE project (pronounced ‘homage’) aims to close the knowledge gap on this key collection; and in general, that of the applied arts from the South-Netherlandish home between the contra-reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. Vincent will complete and open-up the collection’s context through the focused study of the collection’s archives, the compilation of an exhaustive historiography on South Netherlandish applied arts and an in-depth material technical study of the objects. The above will generate new knowledge and research topics within the domain. The project is divided into several work packages (WP’s). In WP 1 a historical and technical state-of-the-art is obtained through literature and archival research. The project foresees a synergetic collaboration with the ongoing 2019 FED-tWIN RMARCH project focusing on the FSI’s archival research. Next, a corpus of objects is selected through an audit and classification (WP2). This corpus is studied on a material technical level (WP3). The acquired knowledge and new insights from the previous WP’s are then contextualized and centralized in the online HOME-AGE network platform (WP4). Throughout the project, the acquired knowledge and experiences will be disseminated towards a broad audience and heritage education (WP5). The outcome is fivefold. First, the audit, historiography, and the archival study complete the information back-log of the FSI’s collection. In addition, insights into the materiality and the history of conservation will allow adequate actions to be taken to safeguard the collection for future generations. Second, the transdisciplinary scientific study will generate new knowledge about the relations between the material technical history and art-history of applied arts in this culturally diverse region. Third, the synergy between the FSI and the UAntwerp will challenge, inspire, and feed the educational programmes of both partners. Fourth: the online HOME-AGE open-access platform will foster general interest and instigate, promote, and assist scholarly research of South Netherlandish applied arts and European art technical history. Fifth: This FEDtWIN aims to consolidate and stimulate the ongoing FSI/UAntwerp partnership