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Nederlands Fotomuseum opens Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography

On 21 January 2021, the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam will open the Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography, where 100 photographs will be on display. All the images have iconic value due to their social and artistic significance, and together they tell the story of photography in the Netherlands, from its beginnings to the present day (1841-2021): the highlights, innovations, and great steps photographers made, from the invention of the photograph to the developments of the early 21st century. The photos will be displayed in a new hall that has been added to the museum especially for the Gallery of Honour. Each photograph is presented with information on its background, the reason for its inclusion, and details on what makes the image so extraordinary.

The photographs and photographers which have been granted a place in the Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography will be announced at the opening in January 2021.

Birgit Donker, director of the Nederlands Fotomuseum said "The Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography is an ode to photography in the Netherlands and to the many photographers who – through their innovative insight – have made this medium what it is today. Photography has undergone a radical development both in technology and social function. The photographs here tell many stories, at the same time showing how there are many different perspectives. I’m certain the public will love these iconic images. This exhibition confirms the significance of the Nederlands Fotomuseum as a national museum with international appeal, firmly anchored in Rotterdam."

Enormous developments The photographs in the Gallery of Honour come from various collections: the rich collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum itself, but there are also important loans from the Rijksmuseum, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam City Archives and the private collections of photographers or their descendants. The gallery begins with the earliest examples of photographic images, the so-called daguerreotypes, and goes on to showcase the work of dozens of photographers who pushed the boundaries of photography, crossing from black and white to colour, and then on to the digital age.

Assignment The selection of photographs in the Gallery of Honour was made by a committee of five members who are experts in the field of Dutch photography and photographers with new perspectives. Birgit Donker, director of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, asked them to select photographs which together would offer an overview of Dutch photography between 1841 and 2021. The committee’s selection criteria would be based on a work’s artistic and social relevance, innovation, and diversity of perspective.

Thousands of photographs Particular attention was paid to photographs which played – and play – a meaningful role in the development of Dutch photography. The committee was also asked to come up with an overview that would be accessible to a wide audience but also surprising for aficionados, that would be chronologically distributed as evenly as possible, that would be inclusive with different perspectives, and that would mainly, but not exclusively, come from the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum. The committee met five times over a period of several months to select 100 iconic images from many thousands of photographs.

99 + 1 The Gallery of Honour will consist of 100 iconic works, but also includes one empty frame. That blank space symbolizes the photograph which – consciously or unconsciously – was discarded or overlooked or unknown or not (yet) appreciated. The public are therefore invited to suggest the ‘unknown photograph’ themselves, a discussion that the Gallery of Honour welcomes. Based on the ‘unknown photograph’, the Nederlands Fotomuseum is also developing a programme with lectures and debates on ‘blank spots’ in the history of photography, new perspectives and diverse opinions.

Nederlands Fotomuseum Wilhelminakade 332 3072 AR Rotterdam

Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m to 5 p.m.


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