Jet van Overeem


Visit the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag website.

Gerrit Schreurs

As sector head Education and curator of the Gemeentemuseum’s special children’s gallery and other exhibitions, Jet van Overeem is responsible for the development of new concepts in art education.

During her lecture, learn about Wonderkamers, a permanent exhibition space (1400m2) that offers a fresh introduction to art for ages 9 to 18. Innovative technologies bring art to life through a three-dimensional game in which the visitor must become a curator.

Five Questions for Jet van Overeem

What is your favorite museum or science center and why?

Personally, I never really think in terms of favorite museums or best exhibitions. I realize it’s an individual thing, but I just don’t find that way of thinking particularly inspiring. I’m not some jury member or critic, out to award ratings; I’m a museum ‘creator’ who looks with interest to see how colleagues in other museums are trying, like me, to produce intriguing things to offer the public. Personally, I try to provide well-constructed artistic bridges – of various kinds – between the collections and exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and different sections of the population. My basic aim in doing so is to get the best out of myself and the people I work with in order to make the museum a sparkling place and offer the public an experience that – I hope – will become a treasured memory.

Best exhibition ever?

In the light of what I’ve just said, this is a question I can’t really answer. But I did see a wonderful exhibition in Belgium recently, so perhaps I can mention that. It was Carll Cneut – In my head at St Peter’s Abbey in Ghent. It transports the visitor into the mind of the well-known and much-admired Flemish illustrator Carll Cneut by using dreamy scenographies full of memories of his childhood combined with audio-texts. The memories woven into the scenogaraphies and brought to life through the funny and touching audio-texts include the early death of Cneut’s father and the evening ritual of drawing that followed it, Cneut’s first experience of art (thanks to an aunt who collected grocery loyalty points to exchange for reproductions), and a birdcage recalling the way he used to look after injured birds.

Why should we come and listen to your lecture at the conference?

Well, first of all, nobody says you have to come, but you’ll be very welcome if you do. I’ll tell you the amazing tale of Wonderkamers: a permanent, self-contained 1400-square-metre exhibition area at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag that is specially designed to provide an imaginative and inspiring introduction to our modern art, fashion and decorative arts collections. Kids come there of their own free will and return time and again to spend at least two and a half hours surrounded by authentic works of art. They get completely wrapped up in an innovative museum game, played out in thirteen beautifully designed display areas called Wonderkamers. It allows them to act as curators and ends with them installing their own virtual exhibition in a miniature museum full of hundreds of minuscule artworks created by top artists.

What is the greatest challenge for museums/science centers working with children in the future?

To think up things that have never been done before, to identify the public’s wishes and needs and respond to them, to find and create a working environment in which people can have dreams and share them with each other, and to find the funding necessary to achieve all this – in short, the same challenges as now and in the past.

What is the greatest opportunity for museums/science centers working with children in the future?

The availability of technologies that can be used in their exhibitions to turn fantasy into reality; new developments are extending the range of possibilities all the time.