The two-year Research Master's program Arts of the Netherlands focuses on the artistic tradition of the Netherlands from circa 1400-1900, comprising the fields of early Netherlandish art, Dutch and Flemish art of the Golden Age, and modern art from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Studying the arts of the Netherlands
During the period covered by Arts of the Netherlands, the arts flourished in cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Haarlem, Delft and Amsterdam, while the Netherlandish tradition was shaped by world-renowned artists such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, Jheronimus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer, and Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondrian.
The program combines a historical and object-oriented perspective that gears students toward cutting-edge insights and a research-driven approach and is taught by leading experts from the University of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and other participating museums and institutions. Arts of the Netherlands is committed to the integrated study of various media and forms of artistic expressions, such as painting, prints, drawings, sculpture and architecture, and will facilitate the opportunity to engage in more specialized fields of study in the applied and decorative arts.
Arts of the Netherlands is targeted toward students of the history of art and architecture who are aspiring to a museum or academic career – as curator, researcher or professor – or to a comparable position in a cultural or heritage institution, and provides a solid foundation for advanced graduate research in a Ph.D. program.
University and museum
Arts of the Netherlands is an active collaboration of the University of Amsterdam with the Rijksmuseum and other museums and cultural institutions in the Netherlands and Belgium, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Mauritshuis, the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the Catharijneconvent Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, the Groeninge Museum and the Memling Museum in Bruges, the RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History, the Rubenianum in Antwerp, and leading institutions in the field of architectural heritage. This commitment to the complementary practices of scholarship and curatorship is essential to the program’s mission to train future custodians of Netherlandish art.
Academic research offers a broad historical and theoretical horizon that exceeds the practical boundaries imposed by any museum’s collection, while the museum’s take on research provides unmatched opportunities for examining and investigating the physical objects of our studies.
The program’s curriculum embraces both perspectives and combines them to stimulate intellectual freedom and a deep knowledge of singular works of art. In practice, this means that excursions and on-site training are integral components of the program’s courses; that the study of objects is always motivated by and approached with an intellectual drive; that the student’s time will be divided equally between the seminar room and the museum gallery; and that academics and curators will be involved at all stages of the program.
The program is taught in English, but students who are not familiar with Dutch are expected to learn the language and should be proficient before entering their second year of studies. Arts of the Netherlands is a selective program aimed at outstanding Dutch and international students, of which a maximum of 15 per year can be accepted. A BA degree in art history will be beneficial but is not required formally. Applicants with other BA degrees in the humanities will be considered based on their merit.
A broad perspective
The Low Countries, Europe, and the world
The great masters of the Netherlandish tradition have always looked beyond the borders of the Low Countries: Jan van Eyck was the court painter to the Francophone Duke of Burgundy and spent considerable time in Spain; while he lived in Rome for two years, Bruegel struck up a friendship with an artist who was celebrated as the Michelangelo of the illuminated book; Rubens was in Italy for no less than eleven years and was the painter of choice for an international royal clientele; Rembrandt was a devoted student of Italian art; Van Gogh spent more of his career in France than in the Netherlands; and Mondrian lived in Paris before he crossed the Atlantic.
The program of Arts of the Netherlands acknowledges this broader European context and explores the significance of Florence, Rome and Paris, and the courts of Burgundy and Habsburg, to the Netherlandish tradition, while it also subscribes to a global paradigm that includes exchanges with cultures from Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The cutting edge of art history
The discipline of art history is ever transforming. Digitization, scientific investigation and conservation studies, technical art history, transdisciplinary research, internationalisation and globalisation, the new perspective of heritage studies, the integration of history and art history, the rise of image culture, the recent interest in the object as a vehicle of knowledge and historical imagination – these and other new lines of inquiry continue to have a tremendous impact on ambitious and groundbreaking art historical research.
The Research Master's program Arts of the Netherlands engages with these new paradigms and methods and aims specifically at innovative research. Art generates meaning. We want to understand how.
Arts of the Netherlands is designed for those who seek the formative challenge of sustained research motivated by intellectual freedom.
The program prepares students for a career at a university, in a museum or in a comparable cultural or heritage institution, as a professor, curator, researcher or administrator. It lays a solid foundation for further research at the Ph.D. level.
The program is also suited for those who envision an independent career as a freelance curator, journalist, writer or cultural entrepreneur, or for those with more adventurous minds aspiring to wonderful, exciting, peculiar and obscure jobs and research opportunities that no one drafting a list of future career paths can imagine.
An MA degree from this selective program, which trains students to think independently, critically and creatively, will also provide a viable entry into a vast range of other careers, such as in business, NGO’s and public administration.
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Last updated January 10, 2018