How to Collect Museum Catalogues From the Netherlands

How to start your collection of (dutch) MUSEUM catalogues from the most important designers from last century.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

– focus on the great names in dutch typography and layout. Sandberg, Crouwel, Piet Zwart, Benno Wissing and Paul Schuitema are all worldwide known for their quality.
– always look at the quality of the item offered. Pristine items are practically non existent, but mint can be found. Better to pay a few dollars extra than to collect an item which is less perfect.
– Larger museums have always been in a position to commission their best catalogues to the best designers.
– The edition size is also important and makes a publication even more wanted than when the edition is small. Please note that many Museum publications are from edition sizes between 500 and 1700 which are small already. You can expect that many of these will be destroyed in the 50 years that they were shelved and only a small number survived.
– Early catalogues for startin, but now famous artists, are sought after and deserve a premium.
– signed copies are even more collectable and sometimes they are signed and numbered from a special edition which makes them more scarce and highly collectable.

– Then there is what I call “a secret ingredient” which in many cases is not recognised by others. These great designers included in their designs sometimes original art. Silkscreens were used as covers. Sometimes a special inlay with lithography, etching or silkscreen was inserted. In the best cases these were signed which makes them outright valuable, but can in most cases be had at a fraction of the price of an original work of art. (examples are Escher, Miro, Calder and Arp for their Stedelijk Museum catalogues and other publications).

As noted before the larger museums commissioned their best catalogues to the best designers.
First you must focus in these designers who worked with the largest museums in the Netherlands.

THE DESIGNERS:

Probably the most important and well known is Willem Sandberg. Director and designer for the Stedelijk Museum in the 50’s and early 60’s. Known for his bold use of lettering and recognisable lay out with thorn letters used as illustrations. Many of the designed Sandberg catalogues have become classics.

About 350 catalogues were designed for the Stedelijk Museum by Sandberg

Secondly there is Wim Crouwel, who was responsible for many catalogues from the sixties and seventies and later become director of the Museum Boymans van Beuningen. He designed some 300 catalogues for the Stedelijk Museum.

In Rotterdam there was also Benno Wissing who later started with Wim Crouwel Total Design. There are some similarities between Sandberg and early Wissing but both have a style of their own.

Piet Zwart and Paul Schuitema are known for their lay outs with photo collage and are highly collectable too.

THE MUSEUMS

The largest museum in the Netherlands are:

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, published ca. 1100 catalogues over 60 years. Designers were Sandberg, Piet Zwart and Wim Crouwel

Museum Boymans van Beuningen. Main designers were Benno Wissing and 3VO

Haags Gemeentemuseum. Published ca. 600 catalogues over 60 years. Designers were Foppe, Janssen, Lebbink ao.

Van Abbemuseum. Is the small museum with the great designers. Wim Crouwel worked for them in his early days, but do not forget Jan van Toorn who is also know for his seventies exhibition designs.

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