Joseph Beuys: interview with Frans Haks (1976)

Joseph Beuys, Veert, 1975

Joseph Beuys, Veert, 1975

FH: A lot has already been written about your work as an artist, so now I should like to talk to you about its implications for museums and how you think a museum ought to function. Have you found that museums generally stick to their traditional role, or have they adapted to the more ambitious aims of some contemporary artists?

JB: Well, I can only say that museums have tried to adapt as well as possible to the wishes of present-day artists. Its only fair to say that. Some museums, of course, have been less active in this respect, while others have been extremely progressive. But generally speaking, the museums and other cultural institutions that put on exhibitions and soon have endeavoured to a greater or lesser degree to keep pace with new developments. I think the fact that new art forms such as 'action art’, 'land art’, 'body art', 'conceptual art etc, have been exhibited more or less successfully in museums speaks for itself.

FH: You are active in various fields. First, there's your work at the academy—in other words, your teaching: then there are your political activities, and of course your objects and drawings. Should these fields be considered separately, or as different modes of adaptation to various social strata?

JB: No, they aren't separate. but I should mention that one area—my objects and drawings–is only just being exhibited for the first time. Part of my work, you see, has been purely traditional. Though it may have taken a more or less revolutionary artistic form, I recognise that my innovations in this sphere (my objects, my action art etc.) are in the established tradition and can be exhibited in a traditional manner. But as to what you said just now about a broader concept of art with political dimensions, including plans for adult education or evan the economy–well, that's more than present-day museums can cope with. I can pursue this objective anywhere than but in a Museum, because there it's so often misconstrued. All the same, I've been able to impart some information about this broader concept of art in museums too; in the museum in Dublin, for instance, I had an excellent opportunity to tell people about this idea, and about the need for establishing a completely totalised concept of art and setting up institutions for its promotion. But you can only do that occasionally.

FH: What does it depend on?

JB: On the personality and character of those who organise the museum, and whether or not they get what they want.

FH: Is that a good or a bad thing, do you think?

JB: One has to take a positive attitude wherever possible. If a museum that has always been completely traditional suddenly decides to present a totalised concept of art, I'd say its undergone an inner change, at least temporarily. The question is, of course, whether it will persevere in this approach for an appreciable time: whether this is simply an isolated venture or something that will change its style completely in the future. Sometimes it's quite definitely just an isolated occasion after which the museum reverts to its old function. But this doesn't seem to me to be a question of museums, but of places. Any place will do where something can happen to broaden the concept, whether in parliament, in church, in a museum, in the street, in a commune, in a working-class neighbourhood or in a factory. I welcome any place where people are prepared to set the scene for something to happen which will promote the future evolution of culture, democracy and the economy. And occasionally a museum takes part in such positive campaigns, too.

FH: Do you mean there can never be an ideal museum, since a museum that wished to achieve its objectives as completely as possible would have to include your political and educational activities?

JB: Yes, that a big problem, a very big problem…

FH: I can imagine an ideal exhibition or collection in which everything was incorporated.

JB: Oh, certainly, its always a good thing for us to demand that the museum should aim at functioning on a broader basis and present all cultural manifestations and all the problems of society within its walls. But we must realise that this will change its very nature. Certainly it'll be a change for the better, but the museum will no longer be a museum, but a university. And that's what I want. I want to make museums into universities, with a department for objects.

FH: Do you regard a university as a better institution than a museum?

JB: Yes, because in a university there is an interdisciplinary relation between all the fields of human activity, and this interdisciplinary relation is capable of developing a new concept of art because it’s doubtful whether artists will do so. In my experience. artists have no interest in an interdisciplinary concept of art. Most of them—I'd say about 99%—have an interest in perpetuating the traditional concept for selfish reasons: because it suits the style of their work, for instance, or for financial advantage. Few artists are interested in a totalised concept of art which would transform museums into universities and equate the concept of creativity with the possibility of shaping the world. If I have to define my concept of the fundamental meaning of art it is that the world needs to be shaped by man. But the business of shaping with one's personal talent and creativity concerns not only artists but also bridge-builders, engineers, doctors; it applies to hospitals, to the building of streets and towns, to creative financing; it applies to production, the market, consumption, agriculture and soon: in fact, to every aspect of our environment. So creativity isn't the monopoly of artists. This is the crucial fact I've come to realise, and this broader concept of creativity is my concept of art. When I say everybody is an artist, I mean everybody can determine the content of life in his particular sphere, whether in painting, music, engineering, caring for the sick, the economy or whatever. All around us the fundamentals of life are crying out to be shaped, or created. But our idea of culture is severely restricted because we've always applied it to art.

The dilemma of museums and other cultural institutions stems from the fact that culture is such an isolated field, and that art is even more isolated: an ivory tower in the field of culture surrounded first by the whole complex of culture and education, and then by the media—television, radio, the press—which are also part of culture. We have a restricted idea of culture which debases everything; and or the debased concept of art that has forced museums into their present weak and isolated position. I repeat: our concept of art more be universal and have the interdisciplinary nature of a university, and there must be a university department with a new concept of art and science. But for the time being this concept, as I've said, is an ideal for which we must work, campaign and found institutions, and we've only just started. In this transitional period museums could be an asset, depending on the personality of those in charge of them. You can't say the museum is useless, even a hindrance, because another museum might well be helpful, as those in Dublin and Belfast were. They gave me plenty of scope to campaign for my political ideas and my ideas about a broader concept of art, and I've no reason to suppose they won't do so again. I think many museums feel—in fact, know—that they should change, and it all depends, as I've said, on those who run them.

The other problem, of course, is the dependence of museums on central and local government authorities. The fact that museums are state institutions presents a political problem, but then schools, universities, the press, television, radio, films and so on also suffer from this dependence: the state's tutelage of culture in general has an equally undesirable effect in museums, universities, schools, the media, right down to the daily papers. You see, we live in a political system where every cultural activity until now has been dependent on the interests of the state. Since the state often deals and gets involved with economic powers, it often happens that international capitalism, in dominating the state, paralyses and subjugates all cultural initiative. That's why I advocate a free and autonomous education system, a free university, free museums and so on, independent of state tutelage.

FH: Couldn't the interests of the state change?

JB: No. The state will always have an interest in retaining its hold and its influence on these institutions. The only thing would be to abolish the state, or make it truly democratic in concept. Then it would simply administer the law and regulate the legislative, judicial and executive authorities that ensure that the laws are kept, right down to the police. But then the police would be different, they'd be an instrument of the people, a democratic executive body responsible for ensuring that democratic legal forms (you notice I use the word forms—another creative concept) are observed. But this is a completely different concept for the state; it would no longer be in charge of cultural activities. The principle of autonomy would be universally accepted in the cultural and democratic spheres, production, consumption and the economic system, the difference being that the democratic forms would then influence everything—but in the best possible way, since they'd be shaped by those who were active in the cultural field.

We can talk until we're blue in the face, but until the principles of form are applied to democracy, which is now in a state of chaos, and to the economic principles, which are in a similar state, we shan't achieve culture that will serve man better and therefore have a revolutionary effect. A small museum can do very progressive work if it has a good director. But the director can't free the museum of its legal dependence except by rebelling against the powers that be and, knowing he has the whole populace behind him, proclaiming its independence. Where the funds are to come from—well, that's another question, for we can only finance a museum organically if we have a different system, a different creative economic principle in operation. You see, we've got an economic system that works most undemocratically and egotistically and is quite impervious to the laws of democracy: an anarchistic system—but anarchistic in a negative sense–which has a subversive effect on the whole social organism. So from this point of view one could ,say that our most urgent need is not to create pictures or sculpture but to shape the economy: that's what needs reforming. And the democratic legal structure, which at present is a shambles, needs reshaping too. That’s my concept of creativity, and in this sense I am justified in saying that every person is an artist. But only in this sense; in any other it would be a foolish, sentimental statement. Only by trying to apply my concept of art and creativity to everyone and all aspects of society can I totalise it, and this justifies my saying that every person is an artist. I don't mean of course that he already is one, but that he's fundamentally capable of becoming one.

FH: From what you say, even the ideal museum couldn't present your complete work, could it?

JB: No. While museums are in their present legal and economic position in the social structure as a whole, the ideal museum can't be realised. But I started, you'll remember, with a positive approach and then went on to say that every institution at present is in the same undesirable position. That doesn't mean that I'll refuse to go and give a talk at the primary school next door if I'm invited, because I may possibly be able to do some good there. I can certainly work now for the day when there will be an ideal museum. But if it's going to achieve anything, I've got to think along quite different lines from the present-day museum with its isolated cultural work. Its traditional function is, of course, to promote culture in the narrow sense of the word. It can therefore exhibit new art forms, but on a very restricted basis, extremely remote from everyday life. Small-scale revolutions in the world of culture displayed on this narrow basis are not enough to bring about the big revolution in the creative principles of society.

In order to do this, it's no use revolutionising the discipline: changing from impressionism to expressionism, for instance, or introducing minimal art, land art, body art and conceptual art; these are traditional revolutions in the same basic trend, which art historians can easily recognise and keep each in its separate pigeon-hole. Such stylistic innovation and revolutions won't suffice to reform the social creative concept. Therefore the logical thing seems to me not only to develop new forms within the disciplines, but to change—transform—the very concept of art. And I believe that can only be done by applying the concept not only to painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and the like, but to everyone. It must become an anthropological concept applicable to every aspect of society.

FH: Have there been instances of museums helping and furthering your activities outside the museum?

JB: Few, very few…

FH:. . . the Documenta, for instance?

JB: Oh yes, the first time I worked at the Documenta with my bureau for direct democracy, they gave me a lot of help. As I said, it's not museums but people who are to blame! Museums don't change because artists don't change! Artists are behind the times! They're still living in the last century, and if artists, who are supposed to bring forth new ideas, are traditional, you can't expect museum directors and art historians to change. That's why I say artists are to blame! . . . I'm not saying there are no exceptions [but[ 99% of them keep to the traditional path.

FH: [But some people] are working to broaden the conception of art. One might at least expect the museums to give their work—and your bureau for direct democracy—some financial support.

JB: That's still a long way off they don't give any financial help. If a museum or an institution like the Documenta provides me with certain facilities, I'm still out of pocket, because I've got to pay for the campaign myself: the telephone, the printing of pamphlets and so on. It was the same with the action art. When John Cage was allowed to perform at the National Art Academy—a completely traditional institution—here in Düsseldorf, he and I and several others had to pay for it and for the large number of students who also rook part. We scraped the money together somehow, but neither the Academy nor the state gave a penny. On the contrary, I'm still being sued by the Minister of Science for North Rhine Westphalia for practising this kind of art. It's the same old story—the state opposes any attempts to broaden concepts ... and that brings me back to what I said before: the state as we know it must be abolished, and a new concept of the state created. I've deliberately used the artistic term ‘created' because I believe that art, based on a broader concept, should be part of the new scheme of things. That's what artists, with a few exceptions, don't want, and that's why museums are in their present plight. You might say that the plight of our museums is due to the fact that the people are completely powerless; we keep coming back to the people's responsibility. We've got this type of state because we're powerless.

FH: Do you encounter difficulties of a completely different nature? Don't colleagues in your bureau criticise you for still working with museums and exhibitions in them? Don't they—and don't you, for that matter—find that a museum provides too restrictive a framework for your objectives, which after all are on an extremely vast and comprehensive scale?

JB: That's certainly an important point. But of course, much also depends on the individual's ability. A person with real talent for imaginative work such as painters, sculptors, composers and poets naturally possess, talent that is absolutely vital for creativity a person with such talent has got to operate at two levels anyway. He has to realise that he mustn't only present the ideal form—the theoretical side—but occasionally the image as well: an imaginary image which, thanks to the artist's personal gift of expression, gives some inkling of what the world may be like one day. But that depends on the ability of the specialists. I'm not trying to abolish art; no, I want to ensure that art—that is imaginative representation, portrayal and description of the universe–can be born. The specialist, whether he's a sculptor or an artist who can express himself in colour, is immensely important. But really, if he wants to develop his painting or sculpter in the right way and put it on a new basis, he must follow a fresh course that will enable him to view the problem from all angles and consider all the other aspects of society. Only then will he have the right, the true justification and the strength to create at all. Otherwise everything he does will be phoney and petty. At present, people with talent doing imaginative work as so-called artists (we'll use the the traditional term for convenience’s sake) have no alternative but to exhibit their work in museums, at the Documenta or wherever cultural events are organised. My sequence of drawings The Secret Block', which they let me exhibit in Oxford, couldn't have been shown in the street or in a factory, because there would have been no introduction to it, and it can't be understood without an introduction. It may be later on, but not yet.

FH: Do you think the whole idea behind your drawings is evident when they’re hung in a museum? Or do you regard that as a separate matter?

JB: No, I don't regard it as a separate matter, but as part of a gradual transition. At first glance the drawings contain imaginary shapes that don't convey a political meaning—at least, nor directly, in such a way that people might say, 'This picture has this or that political meaning'. That would be a very bad thing, because then there would be no need for art. If ideas alone were important, colour, pictures, drawings, imagination, sculpture, sounds, music, dance, acting would be quite superfluous! Everything could be verbalised on a purely intellectual plane with ideas. As it is, ideas have their importance, but of course, when they occur to the exclusion of everything else, they absolutely destroy all cultural life or they themselves produce no feedback.

If ideas aren't nourished by imagination, that’s to say, by gothic arches, cathedrals, the—symphonies of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, and by the pictures of Rembrandt and so on, they'll be completely atrophied after six months. Especially Rembrandt’s paintings breathe life into language and concepts, and even the rational concepts of physics are only endowed with real life by imagination, because imagination is far more deeply rooted in evolution and endows language with life, so to speak. For language, after all, is a canon of analytical and of course vital concepts, but if these concepts, aren't continually fed by art, imagination and inspiration, in six months' time language will become a completely bureaucratic jargon that will bring the world to a stand-still. That why I want the kind of art that doesn't yet exist. Many say I'm out to destroy art. I'm not—I want to provide a soil in which it can flourish. But this whole interrelation is an almost mystical or religious matter, and one in which I'm deeply interested…the possibility of people obtaining a completely new attitude to their lives . . . Sometimes you can achieve that in a museum by talking to a small group of people about these things—at such times a museum is the right setting. At other times you can do it better at a railway station, or in the street, or in some office or other. That's what I mean by 'a museum in motion’, I mean the mobility, the realisation that the world consists simply of loci, or different places. We must make the best possible use of all these places in order to achieve our great objective: the transformation of society. Any place will do for that.

FH: Do you mean there are two concepts of art the old restricted one that has produced sculpture, painting and so on, and now the new concept? Do you really completely reject the first one?

JB: No, I've been trying to make that clear all along. That's precisely what I don't do—I don't reject it, I simply see that it can never achieve anything for society as a whole. I can show you what I mean with a sketch. This is the course of history ... [it has] three different paths, and this is the path we call cultural work. If we confine ourselves for the moment to art in the narrow sense, we can draw a series of pigeonholes: one for gothic art, one for baroque, impressionism, expressionism, constructivism, land art, minimal art, body art, conceptual art . . . all new forms in this historic movement. That's the way the art historian looks at it, but these innovations, these revolutionary processes within the discipline of painting, sculpture, etc., are quite incapable of tackling the problems that surround us. So most people regard artistic talent as belonging to a few privileged individuals or cranks, and art as the prerogative of the rich.

The man in the street and the world at large have major problems of a completely different kind; they aren't involved with art because artists haven't produced things that interest them. I don't mean their work has no value, but it isn't understood because their sphere of activity has been too restricted, while ordinary people have been involved in utterly different activities that were perhaps just as important, if not more so. But there's no link between the two: cultural work, but for a few exceptions, is isolated, cut off completely from other aspects of life. That's why I say these innovations aren't enough; this whole path of history that we call art must change course, renew itself. The concept of art, not the discipline, must be broadened. Then it will apply to people and to all the problems of society: cultural, sociological or economic problems.

Specialists in sculpture or painting will be able to attain much greater heights of excellence than if they were working in an ivory tower. Their sculpture will be nourished by all the manifold influences of life, and their specialism will be given true meaning. The same thing will apply to painting: it will literally flourish on all the problems of life, whereas I honestly feel that art as we know it is moving further and further away from life. In a way I'm interested in conceptual art, but a great deal of conceptual art is simply based on a slavish imitation of a scientific approach, just like traditional scientific concepts. That's why I regard every page of a physics book as conceptual art. If I imitate it in a purely morphological manner I'm really doing nothing, because the scientist has already done it in a much wider sense—the historical sense. That's the drawback with much—though not all—conceptual art, etc. I don't in the least want to destroy it; I want to make it possible. In other words, I want to see it raised to a higher level, and this can only be done by extending the concept of art. The same thing applies to science. The public are equally estranged from physics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, astronomy and complicated technology; they don't understand them, so they must be totalised too. Science has got to totalise its concept; then creative problems will become one, and art and science will no longer be two diametrically opposed principles, but just two different ways of obtaining knowledge for living. It's the some with religion, whether it's the Catholic or the Protestant church or a sect: it too has become specialised and no longer has anything to do with vital human problems . . . it too must become universally relevant. Only then, it seems to me, will all the other concepts become more sane.

That's of great importance, because the concept of the economy, which after all is a product of science, is so warped. It's a nuisance, but it's really often much easier to explain something with a sketch ... If we totalise the concept of art like this; that's to say, we don't keep it isolated in the so-called world of culture—here’s culture, with its artists and museums, here the Documenta and so on (laughs) . . . the big world outside is concerned with completely different things—well, here's culture, and we’ve got to relate it to other cultural institutions such as universities—here's education as a whole—and the media (press, radio, television). That's the first step towards a broader concept, breaking down the ivory tower in the whole field of culture and enlarging it. But the concept must have an even wider effect. Next it will make itself felt in the democratic sphere, where its task must be to enable people, by their own ability, to shape their own laws; that is, to create a truly democratic constitution.

FH: One minute we’re talking about the present situation, and the next about a future model . . .

JB: Yes, we must distinguish clearly between the two. I'm not talking about the present but about what will certainly happen in the future because there's no alternative. For if we don't follow this course there is bound to be a catastrophe—not only in the world of museums but in the universe as a whole. If the cultural forces don't realise what they've got to do and don't free themselves from the oppression of the state, the economy, financial dependence and so on, there'll be a catastrophe. But as many artists don't wish to take the path to liberation, I've got to address my political appeal to the artist in every one of us. A farmer can often do considerably more towards liberating culture than an artist, for an artist who in this day and age is simply content to paint pictures doesn't, in my opinion, deserve to be called an artist. He won't produce good pictures—his work will be worthless. Generally speaking, anyway. Of course, there are often remarkable exceptions . . . life is full of contradictions.

FH: Everyone is an artist—that's one of your visions of the future, isn't it? But if it were realised, wouldn't museums be quite superfluous?

J.B: Not at all. There would have to be somewhere where people could go to discuss colour. We'll need specialists in the future too, or there'll be no power, no water, no heating, no teachers, no doctors, only amateurs, that would be awful! I've got nothing against specialists, nothing at all; but I want man to acquire a completely new faculty that will make him a universalist as well, so that he can assume responsibility and make decisions in his particular field. But if, in the future, people want to find out about colours—I don't mean about paints for decorating purposes, but about the imaginative, spiritual, mystical or intellectual aspects of colours—they must go to museum, because that's where these things have their temple. You will notice I've used a word from mythology, because words like 'shrine' and 'temple' have a symbolic meaning in art . . . that’s why art can no longer tackle the problems of life, because it's ceased to radiate religion. Well, in the future people will be able to go to museums again as though they were going to a religious service . . . they'll be able to concentrate on the intellectual side of human nature which is wholly spiritual, wholly religious, the very thing that gives man human dignity. People will know that colour is capable of doing that, and so they'll return to its temple.

FH: That means that museums will have the same limited function as they have now. They'll still be restricted.

JB: Only in the sense that they can simply present a single, specialised facet of society. But museums nowadays are divorced—completely removed—from all the problems of the world. Artists can exploit their so-called freedom in their work. . . so long as it has no effect on society, that's what museums are like nowadays. The museum of the future—I want to draw a genuine antique temple—will permeate every aspect of society. This is a temple to colour—we'll confine ourselves to colour—but the question of colour is tied up with all the others, it's in the midst of life and impregnated with it Suppose there was a university here that specialised in medicine. There'd be a connection between colour and medicine . . .we already know such a connection exists, but in the future it'll really be the therapeutic model: it'll be part of medicine, just as part of medicine will be part of art. But the problem isn't to overcome specialisation—we can't and mustn't do that—at most we can regard it as a problem for the individual. . . but this brings up a fundamental question: what is human life, what are human beings? You notice immediately that we haven't enough concepts for such a cultural discussion. Nowadays our attitude to man is: he's born, he's here, and suddenly he's gone. We don't ask where he came from or where he goes to. The religious element is lacking—we don't know how men enter the world or how they leave it—these are all unsolved mysteries. But it seems to me they are precisely the subjects that art should deal with and they've been excluded.

Look, her’s a man's life. Here's his birth . . . and here's his death. . . and in between is his life's story. In our modern times it usually consists of three stages: from here to here are his first 25 years, in which he's brought up and educated and given a highly specialised training, so that when he goes on to the next stage he can do specialised work. At the end of his working life he's virtually expelled from society: he's pensioned off, he's an old man with no say in things. Actually he's superfluous, he's outlived his usefulness. That's the course of his life. He started to specialise as a child: in fact, he was born a specialist, destined to be used somewhere in society, like a cog or mechanical part. That's got to change. If we say a person should receive a universal education, we mean he should be introduced to all aspects of life; that would be consistent with the broader concept of art and science. But having received this preparatory education he must, by the time he’s 25, have acquired a special skill that will allow him to specialise—let's say, do research work in a power station. But then he’ll be a person who cannot only promptly assume responsibility, but who has become acquainted with all the facets of life and can make decisions like a human being and not like a machine. He'll always have an all-round understanding because he's learned to look around him and take everything into account . . . even as far afield as the regions of metaphysics. This is something he's learned to do, and when he's old he'll want to be as he was before he was trained; so though he's not required as a specialist, he’s needed again from a cultural point of view.

Then human life will be defined right to the end by the concept of art, and not by some technological, foreshortened, materialistic principle of so-called evolution which isn't evolution at all. What's evolving? Only technology, which is growing, getting more complicated, and reaching more and more formidable proportions, and in doing so is crowding out the real values of life, especially art. I'm not opposed in principle to technology, but it must develop as a part of the whole, and only as a part. The fundamental question is: how can the museum and those in charge of it end their isolation, and make it the scene of this special kind of creativity that is concerned not only with the plastic arts and music but also with democracy, the economy and production? How can the museum escape from its isolation and look forward to being liberated? This is a prospect that can only be realised, however, if those who run it are aware of the fundamental political issue . . which is that cultural institutions that are under the jurisdiction of the state aren't really cultural institutions at all.

FH: Then shouldn't the museum give a regular account of its work so that everyone—in accordance with democratic principles—has the opportunity of objecting?

JB: No, that's a misconception of democracy. It's impossible for everyone to decree what the museum is to do . . . No, it's a difficult matter. Obviously it's impossible for everybody to decide—by popular vote, for instance—what the museum shall exhibit; if that happens it’ll exhibit nothing at all or a load of rubbish, because the general public aren't capable of making such a decision; it can only be done by persons with special knowledge of the subject who are capable of making judgments.

FH: But if you're advocating an institution that will encourage everyone to be an artist, it must be prepared to comply with all the public's requests.

JB: That's right . . . but the work that will teach people to be creative and allow every possible new form of art to be exhibited and maintain complete tolerance must be organised by competent persons, or else nothing will be achieved . . . if it’s done by democratic procedures nothing at all will get done. It can only be achieved by a number of competent persons who have a clear idea in their minds of the artistic trend and see it as their task to make it understandable to the general public and totalise the concept of art. Only qualified persons can do it—it can't be done by popular vote or democratic procedures. If the organisers can't exhibit the very best art, there's no point in having a museum.

On the other hand, to ensure that we continue to progress towards this model, we must be absolutely tolerant in promoting work of whatever style that will enable general evolution to take place. We must be tolerant, and tolerance isn’t in itself a democratic quality, Its simply an intellectual attitude which makes one say, 'I'm not the only one with talent around here, The other fellows no fool, either. Of course there will also be democratic processes as in factories, where workers' organisations establish their own constitution. The members of a workers' organisation produce their own factory constitution: that's to say, they decide what kind of constitution they want. In that case all the members have a say . . . in others, a select body deals with specialised matters such as navigation and so on. Decisions can only be made by persons qualified in these special areas, but the constitution must be laid down by everyone. Basic rights must be decided by everyone, but democratic decisions with regard to schools and universities can only be made by select bodies. In the case of a university this means that teachers and students draw up their own regulations and elect new teachers. They also appoint professors and so on.

FH: Situations like that where teachers and students make the decisions are in marked contrast to museums and the world of culture, where it seldom or never happens . . .

JB: . . . but it’s got to be developed, and that's why I say museums should have students. Suppose a new museum director has to be appointed in Eindhoven. First the qualified staff of the museums in the Netherlands are asked to submit their ideas on the subject, and a vote is taken to decide who is to be director. But there should also be a body of students—that's why I think museums should be like universities—who also have a say in the matter and can put forward their ideas when these decisions are being made. They should take part in the consultation.

FH: We haven't got a system like that yet . . .

JB: No, we haven't reached that stage yet, but there's no reason why we shouldn't . . . it's just a matter of wanting it . . . (laughs).


This interview was originally published in: BLOTKAMP, CAREL et al. (Eds.) (1979) Museum in Beweging/Museurn in Motion (Netherlands, Government Publishing Office), pp. 184-97.