#TheDylanSuggests a visit to Huis Marseille, located on the beloved Keizersgracht, just a stone’s throw away from The Dylan. Huis Marseille is the very first museum of photography in Amsterdam. Nanda van den Berg has been the director of Huis Marseille for almost seven years now and is delighted to tell you all about this unique museum.
Tell us a bit about yourself..
My name is Nanda van den Berg. I’ve been the director of Huis Marseille since October 2014. I joined the museum as its head curator in 2011, after working as an acquisitions editor at a literary publishing house and as a lecturer of fashion and fashion history at two art academies, in Amsterdam and Arnhem. I studied art history in Utrecht and graduated in Surrealist Photography. Photography has always been a leitmotif in everything I do. A museum, especially Huis Marseille, is one of the greatest places to work, in my opinion.
In one sentence, what does Huis Marseille stand for?
Huis Marseille stands for the best photography exhibitions in a beautiful seventeenth century setting.
Tell us a bit about the history of Huis Marseille. How did it become the well-known museum it is today?
Huis Marseille is a privately funded museum that opened its doors to the public in September 1999. For the founder, the building at Keizersgracht 401 is important because of its deep-rooted connection with his family history (which can be read in the book “A house called Marseille” by Caroline Hanken). Huis Marseille collects contemporary photography and works with living artists. It does not manage archives. It was the first-ever photography museum in Amsterdam, and the collection is distinguished by its focus on South African, Japanese and Dutch photography. In recent years, the collection has also included fashion photographers with a clear interest in art photography, such as Viviane Sassen, Jamie Hawkesworth and Coco Capitán. We also pay close attention to diaspora, for instance through the purchase and exhibition of Deana Lawson’s work. Huis Marseille distinguishes itself from other photography museums through its collection and exhibition policy and has thereby established a leading national and international reputation.
Do you have a secret about the museum you can share with us?
Secrets are meant to be kept secret, of course, but what I can share is that very few people know that our offices at the front of the building offer some of the best views of Amsterdam!
What do you like most about your workplace? Do you have a favourite spot?
Huis Marseille is a very special, organic building, which on one hand feels residential – its original function – and on the other hand is like a kind of soukh, with its labyrinthine corridors, staircases, and rooms. The structure of the house enables us to tell stories and use the different rooms as ‘chapters’ in exhibitions, which is something I really love. Huis Marseille is the opposite of a ‘white cube’; I like this aspect of the museum the most. And my office is my favourite spot, because of its beautiful views!
Can you tell us a bit about the latest exhibition?
For Infinite Identities. Photography in the Age of Sharing we invited eight artists I follow on Instagram, all of whom use the platform as an additional, digital layer in the process of their work. For example, they use it to communicate about their work, to make work exclusively for it, to use it as an archive, or to reveal their sources of inspiration. The eight selected artists were invited to make a museum presentation of their autonomous work, but Instagram itself – and the influence that this medium has already had on the artistic and communicative development of photography – is the context in which the exhibition is embedded.
Interested in visiting Huis Marseille? Our Clefs d’Or concierges are ready to assist with making arrangements.