If you’ve travelled via Schiphol Airport in the past 3 years, there is a big chance you’ve seen the museum advertising their new exhibitions in the city. Moco museum, they call themselves. The big pink advertising boards are hard to miss. The names ‘Banksy, Warhol, Kusama, Dalí & Haring’ immediately grab the attention of any person that has the slightest interest in art. It seems promising. Medium Magazine joined Mercurius on their museum visit to check out the exhibitions.
From the outside it looks like you’re entering some pink wonderland. You might as well expect Hansel and Gretel to pass you by, throwing out the breadcrumbs to form their trail. However, you are actually entering Moco museum. Being a relatively new museum on Amsterdam’s famous Museumplein, it has done extremely well to enter the top 7 of the most visited museums in the Netherlands. In 2018, Moco museum entertained a staggering 550.000 visitors. Not bad for a non-official museum, is it?
What’s in a name?
That last claim will need some explaining. In the Netherlands, any company can call itself a museum. That’s why Amsterdam has the (in)famous Sexmuseum and Torture Museum. These museums, like Moco, are not a part of the Dutch Museumvereniging. This is the organization that all official museums in the Netherlands are a part of. You can think of Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, but also NEMO, Amsterdam’s science museum. Moco is not a part of this organization, but in contrast is a commercial enterprise.
Not bad for a non-official museum, is it?
Moco museum was started in 2016 by famous art couple Kim and Lionel Logchies. After they gathered a lot of interest in their own Lionel Gallery with a Banksy exposition from their private collection, they decided to share this collection with the world by starting their own museum. They found a location for their museum in the famous Villa Alsberg, one of the only residences left situated on Museumplein. It turns out to be the perfect location, as it is on the walking route between the big three museums on Museumplein.
Due to Moco not being a part of the Museumvereniging, they don’t have to adhere to the rules other museums would have to adhere to.The big Banksy exhibition, which is the absolute pinnacle of their marketing campaigns, is actually on Banksy’s exhibition blacklist. On his website, banksy.co.uk., the artist himself has a list of ‘Banksy exhibitions’ that are not authentic. The website itself states ‘Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions none of which are consensual. They’ve been organised entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly.’. The Moco exhibition is one of those.
It however can become clear from just looking at the exhibition that Banksy would not approve of it. Most of the pieces are from private collections, and in the description of the artwork, it would be explained what Banksy meant with this piece. Banksy however would not agree to this. The sole reason you never see his face or hear his voice in the media is that he does not want to explain why he does what he does. Some artworks are pretty clear in meaning, but the interpretation of it should be done by the visitors themselves. Ironically, Moco museum has their own giftshop, in which they sell memorabilia of the museum. Banksy’s name is included in that. Anyone who knows Banksy’s art would know he is not the biggest fan of capitalism. A gift shop would go against all his principles. Ironic indeed.
The extent to which they are real is questionable, but is that the purpose of art?
Real or fake?
Banksy’s exhibition is not the only one that is frowned upon. Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant analysed the museum’s pieces. The ‘Moco Masters’, situated on the top floor of the museum, are a series of original pieces from the museum owners themselves. They pride themselves on the original pieces by Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and Keith Haring, amongst others. De Volkskrant did have some remarks about the Keith Haring pieces in the collection. Haring is most famously known for this subway drawings. These were quick chalk drawings he did in the eighties in New York on unused advertisement signs. Moco possesses two of those. The Dutch painter Jan Rothuizen however, worked with Haring and came to the conclusion that those pieces weren’t originally made by Haring.
Is it worth it to visit Moco museum? As controversial as some of their exhibitions may be, they are doing well for themselves. The new exhibition by New York-based artist Daniel Arsham is presented by the artist himself, and it is quite impressive. Every start is hard, so Moco museum needed something to get themselves into the limelight. Although the museum is quite small, there are some unique pieces in there. The extent to which they are real is questionable, but is that the purpose of art? Judge for yourself.
Cover: Eric Ward