Plans are underway for the opening of a new privately funded contemporary art institution in Amsterdam under the auspices of the Hartwig Art Foundation, and although the first hammer has not been swung nor the first brick posed, the foundation has already appointed the head of the museum. The arts journal reports that Beatrix Ruf, the former director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, will lead the fledgling institution from its inception. Ruf ended his tenure at the Stedelijk in 2017 amid concerns (later refuted) of a conflict of interest over his advice to collectors loaning works to the museum. She concluded a short stint as head of the international program at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow this year, just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine and the Garage halted work on planned exhibitions.
The Hartwig Art Foundation was established in 2020 by billionaire Rob Defares with the aim of commissioning and purchasing works of art to donate to the National Collection of the Netherlands (CCNL). Defares, co-head and co-founder of e-commerce firm IMF Financial Markets, originally pledged €10 million (equivalent to around $8.7 million in 2020) to the project, which he continues to largely fund. The new museum, which has yet to be named, will occupy Parnassusweg 220, a former courthouse built in the 1970s on the border of Zuidas, a booming business district known as the Financial Mile.
Ruf says the new museum, which will offer both through CCNL and the foundation long-term and short-term loans to Dutch and international institutions, “is unlike anything we have in the country – the concept itself is quite radical”. The museum will not house a permanent collection and will be “informed by the contemporary condition, which is very flexible and can incorporate ideas from diverse groups,” Ruf said. According to a statement on the foundation’s website, the museum will focus on commissioning and presenting “all media of visual arts, temporal art and future art forms”, some of which will be created in on-site studios. Among the partners he has named in this endeavor are the Appel Contemporary Art Center, the Framer Frame exhibition space, Oude Kerke, the National Academy of Fine Arts and the Stedelijk.