M has an impressive track record in the fields of the management and preservation of artistic objects, and plays an exemplary role in the Flemish museum landscape. We have a state-of-the-art museum warehouse, we research our own pieces in the collection, we have restored more than 200 works since 2006, and are currently working on digital registration. We are thus not only able to optimally manage and maintain our collection, but also to make it available to researchers. We currently have several ongoing research projects.
The prints collection at M comprises more than 20,000 pieces. Over the coming years, we will enhance the preservation conditions of the print room. This is the ideal occasion to make a comprehensive inventory and to digitize the collection. The first phase will be completed at the end of 2018, and our focus will shift to digital availability, so that everybody can consult this wealth of visual materials online.
In the Middle Ages, Leuven was famous as a centre for the production of extraordinary sculpture. Based on our extensive and internationally renowned collection of medieval and Renaissance sculpture, M has acquired significant expertise in the how and why of medieval art and visual culture. In 2015, M founded the study centre and international network Ards to stimulate research into medieval sculpture.
Exhibiting art is an art in itself. As a museum, we keep our finger on the pulse of international museum developments, and research how our collection should best be displayed. How do viewers read an artwork? And what role can museums play in enhancing that experience? These are just some of the central questions in the research project Visual Literacy. In this project, we collaborate with KU Leuven and an international network of researchers. In June 2017, the first results will be presented in a completely renewed display.
M is shifting from an art-historical museum, which juxtaposes various stylistic periods beside one another, to a trans-historical museum, which brings together older and contemporary art and brings it into dialogue. This involves much more than simply hanging one work beside the next. We are currently collaborating with the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and others to explore the best ways of creating added value for you, our visitors.