Plans are afoot for a new privately funded contemporary art institution to open in Amsterdam under the auspices of the Hartwig Art Foundation, and though the first sledgehammer has not been swung nor the first brick laid, the foundation has already named the museum’s chief. The Art Newspaper reports that Beatrix Ruf, the onetime director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, will lead the fledgling institution from its inception. Ruf ended her tenure at the Stedelijk in 2017 amid concerns (later disproven) of a conflict of interest regarding her advice to collectors loaning works to the museum. She this year concluded a short stint helming the international program at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, just a few 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 intent of commissioning and purchasing artworks to be donated to the Dutch State and available to institutions in the Netherlands and abroad. Defares, a cochief and cofounder of electronic trading firm IMF Financial Markets, initially pledged €10m (equivalent to roughly $8.7 million in 2020) to the project, which he continues to largely fund. The as-yet-unnamed new museum is to occupy Parnassusweg 220, a 1970s-built former courthouse on the border of Zuidas, an up-and-coming business district known as the Financial Mile.
Ruf says that the new museum, which will offer through both the CCNL and the foundation long- 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, one which is highly flexible and can incorporate ideas from diverse groups,” said Ruf. According to a statement on the foundation’s website, the museum will focus on commissioning and presenting “all media of the visual arts, time-based art and future art forms,” some of which will be created in on-site studios. Among the partners it has named in the endeavor are de Appel contemporary art center, Framer Framed exhibition space, Oude Kerke, the State Academy of Fine Arts, and the Stedelijk.