The Transhistorical Museum

Research Project

The Transhistorical Museum

Mapping the Field

Towards a transhistorical museum

M is transitioning from an art-historical museum that displays different stylistic periods alongside one another towards a transhistorical museum, which brings together art from the past and present in a new dialogue. There’s more to this than simply hanging works side by side.

International research project

In 2015, M joined forces with the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem to launch the international research project The Transhistorical Museum: Objects, Narratives and Temporalities. Two conferences, a workshop and a lecture have already been organized in this regard, and we presented the first publication on the project on 23 May 2018. The book appears in collaboration with the Amsterdam publisher Valiz.

Crossing borders

There has been a remarkable increase in so-called ‘transhistorical’ exhibitions since the beginning of this century – exhibitions at which artworks and artefacts from different periods and art-historical and cultural contexts are shown together. Curators seek in this way to challenge and broaden traditional concepts such as chronology, context and category. By transcending art-historical boundaries, these experiments can bring new insights into historical assumptions and create space for new interpretations of objects in relation to their context and history.

Theoretical basis

Despite this increased interest, a well-founded theoretical study of transhistoricity and related curatorial projects has so far been lacking. The Transhistorical Museum: Objects, Narratives and Temporalities sets out to fill that gap. It’s a commitment that hasn’t gone unnoticed. The ‘transhistorical’ made The New York Times, for instance, in April 2018. 

The Transhistorical Museum: Mapping the Field (Valiz, 2018)

This publication maps out the ‘transhistorical domain’ through a collection of essays by leading researchers, curators, and museum professionals. It explores the concepts underpinning the transhistorical, describes the theoretical background and sheds light on a number of transhistorical exhibitions. In this way, the book forms the basis for further research and practical applications.


Available for purchase at the M bookshop: €19.90


Editors: Eva Wittocx, Ann Demeester, Peter Carpreau, Melanie Bühler, Xander Karskens

With contributions by: Mieke Bal, Melanie Bühler, Peter Carpreau, Bice Curiger, Penelope Curtis, Ann Demeester, Olga Fernández López, Hendrik Folkerts, Hanneke Grootenboer, Maria Iñigo Clavo, Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Jean-Huber Martin, Ruth Noack, Alexander Nagel, Nicola Setari, Jasper Sharp, Abigail Winograd, Eva Wittocx