On 18 November 2021, M.A.C. Groffen will defend her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Collecting Contemporary Home Life’.
IKEA’s interior design ensembles are a successful commercial attraction to say the least, with these modern compositions being sold in their entirety all over the world. ‘Funda addiction’ is also no rare phenomenon in the Netherlands and the development of the ‘Funda House’, a virtual house inspired by the visitor searches on the Funda website, is a clear outgrowth of this practice. These days, furniture stores, construction firms and estate agents try to tempt potential buyers using modern period-room-like displays.
Simultaneously, museums have developed an increased interest in both contemporaneity and in evocative ensembles. They used to collect in a retrospective manner: reflecting on the past they would preserve items of historical value. But there is an increased focus on the present: on what is relevant now. Additionally, this relevance is no longer characterized merely in terms of peculiarity or specialness, but also in terms of ordinariness and the diversity of the every-day. However, this museological interest in ‘contemporary collecting’ remains quite vague: there is not agreement on how to go about this, nor about concrete goals and, in fact, not even about the definition of the term. Curators are confronted with difficult decisions about which items to select, and whether they are the justified person to make such choices. Groffen’s research is situated in this field of tension. In her dissertation she sets out to establish a strategy that could support curators of cultural-historical collections in collecting contemporary home life.
It is, says Groffen, striking that museums appear to have overlooked the concept of a modern period room. The book examines three commercial cases: IKEA’s room settings, BAM’s Homestudios and the funda House. Aiming to develop a viable strategy for how cultural-history museums collect contemporary home life, Groffen analyses these cases from a museum curator’s perspective. What insights can museums gain from these organisations?