The Plant Collection is a artist research on the vanished – and forgotten – plant life in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. From 1945 to 1983, plants stood next to the works of Mark Rothko, Niki de Saint Phalle, Christo and many others. During the 38 years that plants were part of the museum’s policy, you could certainly speak of a ‘collection’. The plant collection included 39 different species. After every exhibition, the plants would be taken away and moved to a new spot. Plants were donated to the museum and a specific person was employed to take care of the collection.
The major part of the research was based on documents and photographs of exhibitions found in various archives. In addition to this, I interviewed (former) employees of the Stedelijk Museum in order to get an idea of why plants were originally brought, how they were used and why they disappeared.
Together with graphic designer Roger Willems and publisher Roma Publications the results of my research are compiled in an artist’s book. This book contains an index of all the plant species, 272 exhibitions photographs, an foreword by art historian Caroline Roodenburg and a interview by artist Maria Barnas plus letters and other relevant archival documents.
In 2013, the last plant vanished from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. For reasons of humidity, safety and hygiene, this Sansevieria was no longer allowed to remain in the department. Since then, it has been in the home of a former employee. In conjunction with the special book edition, Meijer cultivated 25 cuttings from this plant in order to propagate the museum’s only remaining plant. The cutting, together with a photograph, certificate and specially designed archive box, is available at gallery AKINCI, edition of 15.
This work has been made possible by the support of the Mondriaan Fonds and Jaap Harten Fonds.