The 50 sculptures on display in the collection pavilion were chosen by a ‘collection council’, a panel of people with diverse profiles, who individually rated a wider selection of artworks from the depots of the Middelheim Museum, each piece receiving a high, medium or low score for 7 different criteria. Therefore, this final selection consists of works that landed here for various reasons, and as a result masterpieces are shown alongside surprising discoveries. Below we briefly describe the selection criteria.
General Historical value
Does the work have a clear link with one or more specific persons, groups, communities, locations, events or activities in the past? Take for example a work that gives a better insight into an important historical fact such as a world war.
Some sculptures strongly reflect the past of the Middelheim Museum. This can apply to works commissioned by the museum and which were on display during a Biennial Middelheim or another museum show, such as works of art that were part of the very first exhibition in 1950.
The more innovative a sculpture is and the more it bears witness to an important artistic development in history, the higher its art-historical importance. For example, a sculpture can be groundbreaking because of its design, concept, execution or technique.
Certain objects are interesting because they provide us with a lot of useful information. They help us in our research on works of art or they illustrate the creative process, how the sculpture came about. Examples include studies, preliminary designs or scale models of works, from the collection or on display in the Antwerp public space. In the case of temporary works that no longer exist, a scale model is often one of the very few tangible objects that can still give an idea of what the artist had in mind.
If a sculpture fulfils a function or has a specific meaning for a certain group in our society, it also has a social value. It can be a source of pride and create a sense of belonging. Think of a religious sculpture, for example.
Socially critical value
Our society is constantly changing and therefore we now look at certain older works of art with different eyes. That is why we ask ourselves with every sculpture whether it offers a new perspective on our society, whether it addresses a contemporary social theme affecting many people and leading to discussion and debate, such as gender, environment and migration issues.
We approach a work of art not only with our mind and knowledge, but also with all our senses and emotions. Does it leave us indifferent or are we moved? Do we like it? Does it excite us? We call this the experience value of the work.