After eight years, Het Nieuwe Instituut becomes a heritage institute, and Guus Beumer hands over the baton

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After eight years, Het Nieuwe Instituut becomes a heritage institute, and Guus Beumer hands over the baton
Guus Beumer. Photo: Bart Koetsier.

ROTTERDAM.- From 2021, Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam will move forward as a national heritage institution with assignments relating to the Dutch basic cultural infrastructure (BIS). Within the cultural infrastructure, Het Nieuwe Instituut forms the national memory of the design sector and aspires to shape a strategy aiming at innovation and based on the pillars of sustainability, usability and visibility. Now that Guus Beumer has, after eight years, successfully realised this ambition for the institute, and is approaching statutory retirement age, he will step down as general and artistic director from May 2021. In the near future, he will focus on new initiatives in the fields of heritage and ecology.

In 2012, Beumer was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to turn the then sectoral institutes NAi, Premsela and Virtueel Platform into a national support institution for the entire design sector, including the management of the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning. Under Beumer’s leadership, the disciplines of architecture, design and digital culture were approached from a multidisciplinary perspective for the first time.

“To be able to create a new institute, and in the 21st century too! An assignment from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science that is as complex as it is an honour. What is a national institute today? For me, it no longer represents a classical authority that, like a true monopolist, dominates everyone and everything. I prefer an institute that operates as a network partner within the design field, in which my role is primarily of a supportive nature. And yes, I learned from the previous sector institutes that an institute should want to be multivocal. Hence this questioning attitude and the emphasis on research, a working method that has subsequently coincided with the current development of the designer as researcher. The result is an alert and curious organisation. Who would have thought that a national institute could assume this sort of shape?” - Guus Beumer.

Beumer leaves the institute in an extremely healthy state, with a sound strategic basis and solid financing. Under his leadership, and using the collection as a resource, the institute has developed an impressive multidisciplinary research and exhibition programme, leading to many international exchanges and contributions to prestigious biennial and triennial exhibitions in Venice, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Milan and Shenzhen. Its hallmark is a networked and investigative way of working – expressed, for example, in the multi-year collaboration with TU Delft, in the guise of the joint Jaap Bakema Study Centre.

In addition, an ambitious innovation and digitisation programme has been launched to keep the national collection vital and accessible to researchers and other users in the 21st century. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has expressed its confidence in Het Nieuwe Instituut through the additional investment of 11 million euros in this ambitious heritage programme, entitled Disclosing Architecture. Together with the field and commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the first exploratory steps have also been taken for the network of design and digital culture archives. This will meet a need of the sector, and both design and digital culture will be able to rely on a memory bank.

“The programming and policy of the past eight years have laid the foundations for the future of Het Nieuwe Instituut as a heritage institute. Guus Beumer has a way of working in which he uses an (inter)national network of experts. Due to its visionary view of the role of design in the social domain, Het Nieuwe Instituut has become a unique institution in the world. The scope of the national architecture collection, the way in which research connects all the programmes, and the agenda in which all design disciplines converge, all play a major role. The attention to current affairs and social issues ensures a relevant impact at all times. We would like to thank Guus for all his work and are confident in building on the future of Het Nieuwe Instituut.”- The Supervisory Board of Het Nieuwe Instituut

Until May 2021, Guus Beumer will remain actively associated with Het Nieuwe Instituut as director. After this, he will be involved in the transfer of his activities to the new general and artistic director, who is currently being sought. The new director will be recruited via a public job advertisement.

Guus Beumer: “Thanks to the efforts of the entire organisation and all our stakeholders, Het Nieuwe Instituut can again assume a new guise. It will be fascinating to continue to follow how current topics – such as a hybrid programming method based on the now interwoven physical and digital worlds – will continue to take shape!”

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