Journal Article

Belgian decorative arts in the later nineteenth century

Daniela N. Prina

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 24, issue 2, pages 257-274
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhr018
Belgian decorative arts in the later nineteenth century

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Few studies have been dedicated to the laborious process that led to the foundation of the Musées Royaux des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels de Belgique. Focusing on debates related to the creation of a museum of decorative and industrial arts in Brussels – a ‘Belgian South Kensington’ – the article examines the processes by which, in the second half of the nineteenth century, discussion on the didactic use of artistic collections shaped the projected museum's guiding principles. The artistic policies of the young nation-state prevailed over the didactic ambitions promoted by a group of reformers and industrialists who tried to create a specialized and exclusive institution for the training of craftsmen and artisans: instead, collecting treasures of decorative art, supporting mass education and preserving the national heritage of the nation took priority, over time, in the establishment of the new museum.

Journal Article.  11509 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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