Inside Installations - Project Info

Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art

During a three year project (2004 - 2007) museums and other institutions in Europe have joined hands in a large-scale collaborative project to investigate the care and administration of installations work of art. The project resulted in 33 case studies of installations that were meticulously researched, displayed and documented- in most cases in consultation with the artist. In addition research has been carried out into various directions that together with the case studies provide an insight into the needs and guidance for safeguarding installations for future generations. All project results have been made available via the project's website:

Managed by: Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN)

Co-organised by:
Tate, London
Restaurierungszentrum der Landeshauptstadt, Düsseldorf
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid
Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art (SBMK), The Netherlands

Supported by the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union

Carried out by members of the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art

For the last few decades museums have been collecting installation art works produced with non-traditional materials and media, such as video, film, computers, light and sound. The conservation of these works raises numerous questions. The rapid out dating of media technologies, interactivity, and the site-specific character of installations present a challenge to commonly accepted views on long-term conservation, documentation and presentation. Relatively little research has been conducted in this field, and the problems demand a very specific approach in comparison with traditional forms of art. Authenticity and outdating, artistic intention, and interpretation are all important factors which play a role in decision-making on conservation measures. Setting up an installation satisfactorily requires in-depth insight into the artist's working method, collaboration with technical specialists and intentions, and the significance of the materials and techniques. Without instructions, without accurate registration and with outdated equipment, re-installation can prove to be a huge puzzle.

Together with ICN the Netherlands Media Art Institute researched two out of 33 installations. Revolution (a monument for the television revolution) 1990 by Jeffrey Shaw & Tjebbe van Tijen and Alberts Ark 1990 by Bill Spinhoven. Both created for the traveling exhibition 'Imago fin de siëcle in Dutch contemporary art’ (1990) as co-production between the Netherlands Office for Fine Arts (RBK now ICN) and MonteVideo (now Netherlands Media Art Institute). The installations were aquired in 1990 by ICN. After the 'Imago tour' technical devices (such as laserdisk players, monitors and speakers) became part of the audiovisual collection of MonteVideo. The images were stored at Montevideo the objects at ICN.