At a ceremony held in the Salone Vanvittelliano at the Palazzo della Loggia in Brescia, The National Archives of the Netherlands was announced as the winner of the 2015 Micheletti Award. The trophy was presented to the Archives’ representatives, Astrid Hertog and Nancy Hovingh. Representing the Luigi Micheletti Foundation was René Capovin.
The National Archives of The Netherlands is an authority in The Hague under the Dutch government with the primary task of collecting and preserving records from the government and all its agencies as a documentary-based guarantee for the legal rights and obligations to the population and public authorities. Since 2002 the National Archives has pursued a new strategy in its approach towards the public handling of the nation’s memory, intending to make it more accessible to a much wider public through increased democratisation and participation. A new Visitor Centre was opened in October 2013 by King Willem-Alexander, with a large exhibition entitled ‘The Memory Palace’. This aimed to present the extensive archival collection in an innovative, surprising way, with 11 stories of varying length taking the visitor on a journey through The Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the 1970s. Eleven artists, game developers and producers from other creative sectors were asked for their interpretation of the stories, which could also be seen as stand-alone productions. The exhibition was accompanied by an educational programme, and visits to it were part of The Hague Culture Menu, a programme in which about 75 groups in Year 8 of primary schools visit the Archives.
The judges said: “This exhibition was excellently conceived and excitingly presented. The National Archives of The Netherlands is, of course, first and foremost an archival organisation and as such primarily preserves written documentation from Dutch society. But it has also realised something which may sound obvious. The collections are not only documentation for researchers in the reading room but are also material heritage in the same way that museum objects are. Exactly as in a museum that means that the archival collections can be used for exhibitions and educational purposes where the institution wants to tell a story and make a point. This is very natural for a museum to do, but the National Archives demonstrates that even an archival institution can do that when the will is there and the mind is set. The exhibitions and educational programmes are of a standard as high as any museum and the National Archives of The Netherlands sets a very good example for other archival institutions. It is first of all a question of will and courage.”
2015 Micheletti Award Judges' Report available here: