The Genteel
February 28, 2021


The international hall at Skissernas Museum. Photograph courtesy of Skissernas Museum.

Skissernas Museum features a one-of-a-kind collection, consisting of a broad spectrum of art and artists with a very specific focus. The museum's niche is towards the process of art rather than its final form, meaning that, instead of exhibiting the definitive piece of art, one finds numerous sketches and various models that lead up to the ultimate version. This small town treasure offers its visitors an invaluable source of reference for understanding art. The Genteel spoke with Patrick Amsellem, head of the museum, for this week's 5 x 5 interview to find out more.

1. Tell us what makes Skissernas Museum in Lund so special?

Skissernas Museum's focus on artistic process and art in public space makes it unique. We don't know of any other such museum. This focus, coupled with a great collection of modern and contemporary art, makes it a real gem.

Sonia Delaunay for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris
Sonia Delaunay for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. Photograph courtesy of Skissernas Museum.

2. Skissernas Museum is not exactly situated in a big metropolis. Is that an advantage or disadvantage to the museum in your opinion? 

It is both an advantage and a disadvantage. I used to work at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, which is an excellent museum, and we always said that if it were situated in any other city than New York, it would have been the top destination. Skissernas Museum is a small museum in Lund, which is an old university town.

The proximity to a great university is beneficial, especially in terms of the possibility for cross-disciplinary programs on creativity and innovation. Lund is also easy to reach from Malmö and Copenhagen. At the same time we know that as a small museum we would get much more attention if we were located in a larger city.

Sculptures from the museum collection
Sculptures from the museum collection. Photograph courtesy of Skissernas Museum.

3. You have an extensive depot and a lot of variety in your collection. Tell us about that.

We have 30,000 objects in the collection. Some of the highlights are Matisse's full-scale sketches for his chapel in Provence and Sonia Delaunay's three monumental paintings for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. Other modern international artists represented are Dubuffet, Léger, Diego Rivera and Henry Moore. There is of course contemporary work too and works by many Swedish artists.

Full scale Henri Matisse sketch for his chapel in Provence
Full scale Henri Matisse sketch for his chapel in Provence. Photograph courtesy of Skissernas Museum.

4. You have extensive experience with the New York art scene, including curating photography at the Brooklyn Museum. How does that reflect on your management of Skissernas Museum in Lund?

Experience from working with exhibitions and the exceptional and vast collections at a large institution like the Brooklyn Museum is invaluable for all kind of museum work. What I definitely bring with me in my current job is the Brooklyn Museum's mission to reach and serve a diverse public.

Henry Moore in the main sculpture room
Henry Moore in the main sculpture room. Photograph courtesy of Skissernas Museum.

 5. What are the biggest challenges, as well as the greatest satisfactions, you encounter in your job?

The challenges and the satisfaction are the same: The goal here is to transform the Museum and realise its great potential. The challenge is to find the funds, of course, but also to make the right intellectual choices for the transformation. We have started a project to build a new entrance with a restaurant to give the museum a new face.

We are also digitising the entire collection. The most important undertaking is to oversee the way the museum presents itself and how we communicate who we are. We are reinstalling the collections, working on new interpretative tools, and are also in the process of developing a new graphic profile and ultimately a new website. While respecting tradition, working on both a very concrete and conceptual level we are bringing the museum into the 21st century.

Related: Public Art: The Saviour of the Cities?

Related: An Iron Fist on Public Art



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