Global Design History

RCMC Fellowship for Design Studies

What does design history look like when one starts from the ethnographic? While there has been a recent push towards thinking design in the global perspective, these discussions have been rather limited within ethnographic museums. In fact, the precursor to the Tropenmuseum (the Colonial Museum in Haarlem), emerged within a context of 19th century discussions about the loss of craft skills in the Netherlands, especially in relation to discussions about the craftsmanship in the colonies. Not surprisingly, the museum was imagined as a place where Dutch artists and designers could find inspiration and was housed in the same building as the Museum for Decorative Arts (1877), founded by the Dutch Society of Decorative Arts and Trade alongside a Decorative Arts Academy. Despite the centrality of design to these early histories, design as a framework has not been a part of the collecting, exhibition or research agendas of the NMVW or ethnographic museums more generally.

We seek to address this gap with this fellowship. We welcome projects from junior and senior scholars, and makers and designers, that engage with a global rethinking of design history and futures, with the ethnographic museum and its collections as its focus. This programme coincides with the new focus areas of the NMVW’s acquisitions policy and should result both in a rethinking of our current collections as well as the development of new collections category on global design.

RCMC Design Fellow | 2017

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