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From 19 March to 3 October 2021, Museum Het Schip will be showing the art project 'Limitless Content' in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and the RCE (Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency). The exhibition features twelve transparent suitcases, designed by John den Besten and filled by twelve artists. Master's students from the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage programme (specialisation Contemporary Art) restored the suitcases as part of their first-year programme.

Four of the twelve suitcases
Four of the twelve suitcases

This art project was initiated in 1983 by the Dutch Art Foundation (NKS). Designer John den Besten designed twelve transparent suitcases, after which artists from all over the country were called upon to develop ideas for filling these suitcases. The overarching theme was 'The Journey'. The artists were limited by the size and parallelogram shape of the case, and the materials the case was made of (a welded metal frame and transparent plastic foil). 

Twelve artists were chosen from 100 submissions and commissioned to fill a suitcase: Klaus Peter Boegel, Boudewijn Corstiaensen, Michael Gibbs, Theo van de Goor, Heinz Georg Holtappels, Ronald in 't Hout, Ko de Jonge, Wijo Koek, Bob Lens, Johan Oskam, Flavio Pons and Roel QoQo.

Master's students restoring one of the suitcases © Ellen Jansen

Original intentions of the artists

The cases of Limitless Content are part of the national collection managed by the RCE. In August 2019, the twelve suitcases were transferred to the Atelier building in Amsterdam for educational purposes. The RCE and the UvA have been working closely together in the field of conservation and restoration for years.

Master's students from the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage programme (specialisation Contemporary Art) were asked to conserve and restore the twelve suitcases of Limitless Content as part of their first-year programme. The aim was to conserve the artworks to a degree of stability suitable for future exhibitions, so that their physical integrity would be preserved and the original intentions of the artists could be made clear to the public. In order to achieve this, the students interviewed the artists or their relatives. After all, no artist works without intellectual baggage in the form of memories, desires, ideas and ideals.

The transparent suitcases will be put on display in the post office of Museum Het Schip, where they will be placed in an entourage of postal items that have just arrived or are about to leave.