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Committee appointed on Rein Dool painting and exhibitions policy

A diverse (ad hoc) committee will advise Leiden University’s Executive Board on its exhibitions policy in a broad sense, with a special focus on the painting by Rein Dool in the Academy Building.

The committee has been given the following mission by the Executive Board: ‘Provide advice on guidelines for University exhibitions with a focus on historical and art-historical significance as well as on matters of representation.’ The committee will also look at what, if anything, should be done with Dool’s work and where and how it can best be displayed. The committee will hold a symposium on the topic at the start of 2023 and aims to issue its first piece of advice in the first quarter of the year.

Former administrators

A commotion arose on November 2022 about a painting by artist Rein Dool in a meeting room in the Academy Building when University staff spontaneously removed it from the wall and temporarily placed it on the floor. Not everyone feels represented by the painting, which is a distinctive feature of the small meeting room. The University had previously received comments about diversity and inclusion in relation to the work, which does not include a description. The painting, entitled Het College van Bestuur van de Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (The Executive Board of Leiden University), depicts former administrators of the University. 

The University wants to listen to the many different voices and therefore decided to appoint a committee to advise it on not only this work and a suitable place for it but also the University’s exhibitions policy in general. ‘We see the action as the start of a discussion on the matter and our university is of course an excellent place for this,’ said Annetje Ottow. ‘After the commotion in November, we wanted to press pause for a bit, which is why the painting was hung back up on the wall.’

New insights

‘A committee will now consider what to do next, also in a broader sense and concerning other artworks and the way they are displayed at the University. This discussion belongs here and we at Leiden University, bastion of freedom, can hold it like no other. A debate often leads to new knowledge and valuable insights.’

Committee members

Kitty Zijlmans, Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory/World Art Studies, will chair the committee. The other members of the committee are:

  • Kurt de Belder, Director of University Libraries (UBL) 
  • Rassoul Coelen, student member of the Board of the Institute of Public Administration
  • Judith van IJken, PhD candidate at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts 
  • Pieter Slaman, University historian
  • Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Workplace Inclusion at Leiden University on behalf of the Workplace Pride Foundation
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