A bus makes its way to Kunstmuseum Den Haag carrying local residents from a neighbourhood in The Hague. On arrival, they receive a warm welcome and a cup of coffee. The museum is normally as silent as a church in the evening, but not now. The building is filled with the sound of footsteps, conversation, music. The neighbours are being given guided tours, attending workshops and watching performances. Welcome to Kunstmuseum Den Haag’s City Meets Museum programme, one of the most successful ‘bridge-building’ programmes in the city.
Kunstmuseum Den Haag is here for everyone, but particularly for the people of The Hague. Our City Meets Museum programme, which is intended for people from all parts of the city, was launched in 2009. It focuses in particular on people who might be less inclined to come to the museum due to economic, sociocultural or other obstacles. They may be new to the city, feel isolated, or have little disposable income.
City Meets Museum offers community day trips, group visits and all kinds of specially designed cultural activities, from small guided tours and workshops, to large events for the entire community. We always work with people and organisations that are important in the community, from local libraries to caring neighbours, from community centres to shopkeepers. Would you like to help us reach out to more people in The Hague? Join us, and become an ambassador for the programme. Click here for more information.
‘On community evenings we go to the museum by bus. On the way nursing home residents really get a chance to meet the rest of the community. They’re always asking, “When are we going to the museum again?”. We have a 100-year-old lady who has been three times, and she can’t wait for the next time. She has such fun with everyone.’
The community evenings are by far the best-known element of the programme. Every neighbourhood – from Laak to Escamp, and from Scheveningen to Loosduinen – is invited to a free evening of events at the museum at least once a year. These evenings take place on average once a month, drawing some 800 visitors from the neighbourhood each time. People come to discover the art by themselves, or to learn about our collection on a guided tour. They might unleash their own creativity at a workshop, or simply enjoy a drink and some music and dance by people from their local community. To ensure there are no obstacles for anyone wishing to attend, our buses pick people up, bring them to the museum, and take them home again afterwards. De Volkskrant national newspaper wrote a nice article about our community evenings and local broadcaster Omroep West made a short documentary about them.
Westdoc - Op naar het museum
City Meets Museum shows us that art can be a good way of breaking the ice and bringing people into contact with each other. During a community evening the museum resounds with stories from the neighbourhood, as old memories are recalled and new ones made. A hundred thousand residents of The Hague have already attended one of our special evenings. They come because it is fun to visit an attractive, hospitable and educational place with your neighbours. For many it is extra special because it is one of the few outings they ever experience. Art builds bridges because it appeals to our imaginations, moves us, even amazes us. We might think something is beautiful, ugly or strange: any response is welcome at the museum.
Although we are currently staying 1.5 metres apart, we are particularly keen at this time to keep strengthening our ties with the people of The Hague. We cannot however organise large events to get people to come to the museum. That is why this autumn Kunstmuseum Den Haag will be making more trips into the community. Read all about the free activities available as part of our Home from Home project here.
If you would like to know more about City Meets Museum, or are considering setting up a similar programme at your organisation, we will be happy to share our ideas and experiences with you. Just contact Jolanda van Zijl, free of any obligation.