The Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht was established more than 125 years ago. The museum exhibits mainly visual art, everything from old masters to contemporary collections. “We exhibit very consciously the kind of art you do not see everywhere”, says artistic director Stijn Huijts. “We have permanent collections and alternating exhibitions.”


On account of the recognisable specialisations in its collection and presentation policy, the Bonnefantenmuseum is unique in the Netherlands. “In the case of old art this includes Gothic ivory, early Italian paintings, late mediaeval woodcutting works and Flemish and German paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries”, explains Huijts. “These collections are based on the region, because in the 16th and 17th centuries in this part of the world borders regularly shifted, were removed and then restored. Modern-day Limburg has a long history of evolution.” The contemporary art collection has an international focus, with the museum endeavouring to select artists and schools that you will be find everywhere. According to Huijts, the region even plays a role in contemporary art. “We display works of prominent artists from the Euregio. They include the influential Belgian artist Tuymans, and Imi Knoebel and Jorg Immendorff from Düsseldorf.”


As museums in Germany and Belgium typically attract people from the same region as the Bonnefantenmuseum, the fellow museums cooperate with each other a lot. “Our target group is partly the same, i.e. people from the region interested in art,” explains Huijts. “We collaborate principally in the field of communication, for example with the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, the Leopold Hoesch Museum in Düren, Museum M in Leuven and Z33 in Hasselt. Our location allows us to benefit from this network of fellow institutions. If we’d been located in Amsterdam, it wouldn’t have been possible. We recently organised a joint coach trip to take people from here to there and vice versa. This is how we get people to move around and to go somewhere they would not normally be inclined to go. Language is not a problem; that’s the advantage of visual art.”


The Bonnefanten Museum regularly exchanges collections with museums in other countries. Huijts: “We look beyond our neighbouring countries. Countries like Denmark, France and England see us as a valuable exchange partner, particularly because we have a reputation of being a serious museum with good collections and professional personnel.”