Georges Vantongerloo, Studie nr. III, 1920

The starting point for ‘Solstice’ was a tribute to Robert Hoozee, the former director of the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, who died in 2012. The opening date, 21st June, was his birthday: he would have retired on 21st June 2014. In the exhibition, the MSK looked back at the period from 1982 to 2012, three decades in which the local city museum underwent a genuine transformation.

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Expansion into the MSK we know today
Robert Hoozee began work for the City of Ghent in 1978. He started out as an assistant to the museum curator at the time, Paul Eeckhout, and then became director of the museum in 1982. Step by step, with the scarce resources available, he began to make the museum more professional. Existing museum facilities such as the library and museum depots were extended; new facilities for the public – educational activities, promotional support, the documentation centre and the museum archive – were created. Above all, however, the MSK gained an identity through the many exhibitions that Hoozee organised here and his well-considered expansion of the collection with more Belgian and international art.

A legacy in art
For this tribute exhibition, we came up with a route through the permanent collection focusing on the major works acquired during Hoozee’s tenure, from François-Joseph Navez and Alfred Stevens, James Ensor, Fernand Khnopff and George Minne to Oskar Kokoschka, Erich Heckel and Georges Vantongerloo. At a central point in the very heart of the museum, we focused on how he developed the print room, featuring drawings, watercolours, pastels and prints that had never or only rarely been exhibited before, by artists including James Ensor, Odilon Redon, Félicien Rops and Léon Spilliaert.

This exhibition was organised to accompany the publication of a richly illustrated tribute book.