Museum mergers in France, Belgium and the Netherlands

By Orsolya Radványi

Changing patterns of museum visiting and economic factors are generating new approaches in museum practice. The introduction of centralisation and harmonisation of institutions are sometimes seen as solutions.

The Musée d’Orsay
Established in 1986 from three fine arts collections of paintings and statues, to which furniture was added, the institute thus became a museum of fine and applied arts, as well as photography, from the period 1848-1914.Since 2004 the Musée d’Orsay has been a public institute and national museum under the direction of the Ministry of Culture.

City Museums of Paris
The network of municipal museums (Musées de la Ville de Paris) was developed from 1880 to 1961. The Musée Carnavalet was established in 1880. It was followed in 1900 by a fine arts museum in the Petit Palais and later by other specialist museums.

Today there are 14 museums in the network. By the end of 2012 they will be merged into one public institute.

The RMN – Grand Palais
The government has amalgamated the Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN) and the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées exhibition halls into one public institute. Initially the main task of RMN, established in 1896, was to manage purchases by the state. Production and trading functions were added after 1990.

The Mont des Arts in Brussels
The Mont des Arts in Brussels has traditionally been the centre of the city’s political and cultural life. In 2005 ten cultural institutes located in the area formed an association so that the Mont des Arts could become a museum quarter functioning as a non-profit organisation.

Museum by the riverside in Antwerp
MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) became Antwerp’s newest museum in 2011. It stands in the former Bonaparte Dock, renovated as part of a revitalisation project. Its collection derives from the merger of five museums. Visitor numbers are the second highest in Belgium – only the Magritte Museum draws more people.

The Rijksmuseum
The collections of the 212-year-old institute, contain more than one million objects, a selection of which can be seen in its 200 rooms. Renovation began in 2003 and re-opening is scheduled for next year.