The museum collects, preserves and exhibits unique artworks. Likewise, the museum archive preserves unique documents from the museum’s history. They tell us more about how the museum worked in the past, how it amassed its collection and how it evolved, ever since the opening of the current museum building in Citadel Park in 1904.
Museum policy then and now
The museum’s archive relates to the operation of the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent as a city service and includes financial, administrative, technical and HR files. The reports of the supervisory committee (1903-2007) are especially important as this committee was the museum’s beating heart. Its members included prominent local politicians, artists and experts. Together with the curator, they charted a course for the museum. The committee reports indirectly also paint a historical picture of artistic and cultural thinking in Ghent.
Managing and enriching the museum collection
The sub-archives pertaining to acquisition are very important for all research relating to the collection as it developed through donations, bequests, acquisitions and acquisition proposals. The museum also keeps records about all the works in the collection that have at one time or another been loaned for an exhibition or have been deposited in government buildings (e.g., the Town Hall, the Law Courts, various city museums).
The museum’s primary tasks consist of exhibiting its own collection and organising temporary exhibitions. The many archive boxes, containing correspondence, reports, design plans, samples, technical specifications, etc., paint an accurate picture of how the museum selected and presented works and informed the public during the past 100 years.
Friends of the Museum
The meeting to found the association 'Les amis du Musée' was held on 5 December 1897 in the House of the Public Notaries. The first general meeting took place one year later, in the Royal Academy’s 'Locaux de la Peinture'. The association was one of the first in its kind in Belgium, grouping prominent stakeholders in the world of politics, industry and the arts.
The association worked to enrich the collection of the Ghent museum with major acquisitions. They also provided the impetus for a new museum building. Since the association’s inception, the Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent have continued to support the museum. To date, they still assume a very important role in the larger museum narrative.