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Measuring inclusion


The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, undertook a lengthy activities-based research process to better understand marginalised and excluded communities which they believed they should serve.

The article summarised below is a reflection on the research process, the vision, the aspirations and vision for its outcome. We encourage you to read the full article to benefit from its expansive knowledge, data and process sharing.

This article outlines a research process undertaken between the Van Gogh Art Museum (VGM), Amsterdam, universities and members of the proposed new target audience. The VGM is an art museum situated in what is arguably the cultural capital of the Netherlands. The museum is dedicated to sharing and inspiring through the life and art of the Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh, and some of his contemporaries who influenced his art practice. Since its opening in 1973, VGM has always maintained a policy of inclusion. It has institutional memory and knowledge of working with audiences as diverse as youth, vulnerable elderly and disabled people.

Amsterdam is one of the most diverse cities in the Netherlands. Knowing that the city’s ethnic diversity is set to increase from 9,9% to 38% by 2026, the VGM wanted to design programmes targeting the largest age group, 18-30 year-olds. They learned that young people of this age category with links to migrant communities were the least likely to visit the museum, and the VGM wanted to proactively work towards changing this. Together with their university partners, the VGM also wished to add to the very small body of research work dedicated to understanding inclusion in museums and to provide ideas and recommendations for how to do so. In the article, the VGM articulates its social activism role, so that the study would both contribute to increased numbers and representativity among museum audiences and actively seek to be a vehicle for broader social change, tolerance and inclusive practice within larger society.

The article presents a bridge between the concepts of inclusion, exclusion, belonging, ethics, and the principles of inclusive programming that we have engaged with over these three weeks. These concepts are embedded in the case study of how the Van Gogh Museum envisaged and implemented a programming intervention which would inform its inclusion strategies of young people who have links to migrant communities. It also presents exciting collaborative research work between universities, the museum and the identified target audiences as a means to better understand the under-represented youth audiences. It also presents the theoretical underpinnings for inclusionary and participatory practices, and the social value and potential impact of museums in transforming divided societies.

Should you wish to explore some of these theories in greater depth, you will find the references cited in the article very useful.


Title: Measuring Inclusion in Museums: A Case Study on Cultural Engagement with Young People with a Migrant Background in Amsterdam Author(s): Marjelle Vermeulen, Filip Vermeylen, Karen Maas, Marthe De Vet, Martin Van Engel Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks, Common Ground Research Networks The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum Volume: 12 Issue: 2 February 20, 2019 ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print) ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)

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Creating Meaningful and Inclusive Museum Practices

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