The Temporary Museum Amsterdam was the parallel programme to the annual art fair Art Amsterdam, from 2006 to 2009. The floor plan of this imaginary museum was the entire city and the halls ere made up by Amsterdam’s most prominent art institutes, like Stedelijk Museum, Foam and Appel Arts Centre. By means of design the imaginary becomes a temporal reality in an architecture that bears no walls, but establishes connections and meaning. Visitors of the art fair were provided with a free passe-partout that gave access to all “halls” of the Temporary Museum. Each individual institute realized extra programmes, like debates, openings, performances, guided tours, dinners and parties. Every edition an extended Temporary Museum guide came along, including the programme, a map and critical articles.

The concept and design of this project was developed by Annelys de Vet, the initiative was effected in 2006 at the request of and in cooperation with Art Amsterdam and the Foundation Art and Public Space (SKOR).

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In 2009 the Temporary Museum was not only connected to Art Amsterdam, but also part of an art manifestation dedicated to the 17th century Dutch philosopher Baruch de Spinoza. The 2009-edition was for the first time designed by a third party; the Sandberg Institute’s master’s students. Since January 2009 Annelys de Vet was head of the design department there, and collaborating in this project which formed an exceptional way to work together on an equal level and to get very deep into the project. The students developed their own concept, partly using the existing design-elements, but made their own statement with it.

Starting point for the research in 2009 was Baruch de Spinoza, who is said to have been the modern era’s first political thinker. He called himself a democrat and openly expressed his preference for the democratic state. According to him, the true state is one that offers liberty to everyone, even – or perhaps especially – those who think differently, practice other religions or express conflicting ideas. Some call Spinoza the founder of our democracy. But is that democracy still stable today?
In a crisis, such as the current financial one, democracy is at its most vulnerable. We can still vote, speak freely and criticise the government, but, according to fascism expert Emilio Gentile (NRC Handelsblad, 2 October 2008), nothing we think and say has any effect on what the government does. “Many of the democratically elected leaders do not behave according to democratic principles. They no longer have the moral authority to defend democracy.” In addition, journalism, out of the fear of losing attention, becomes increasingly terse across the board. “The breakneck pace that is the norm on TV means public debate is strongly determined by people who are willing and able to argue exclusively in sound bites,” says philosopher Rob Wijnberg (NRC Handelsblad, 7 March 2009). Unambiguous, decisive politicians are invited to speak more often than their more intellectual and nuanced colleagues. “The unfortunate consequence is that the inclination to reflect diminishes in everyone,”