Skylight Gallery. Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles. Section DocumentaireSkylight Gallery. Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles. Section Documentaire

From 1968 to 1972 Marcel Broodthaers devoted himself to his major intervention Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles. One of the most ambitious projects in European postwar art, the museum and its twelve sections produced a lot of additional work, including ephemera, exhibitions, publications, and documentation, some of which you will find on the larger wall of the Central Gallery. Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles was more of an extended comment, a model, a body of ideas that formed around it from its beginning and determined the way it developed as a space and an institution. Founded in 1968, at Broodthaers’s studio in Brussels, with the so-called 19th-Century Section. Broodthaers described this moment in detail in one of his interviews. After Europe was shaken up by the protests of 1968, a group of friends, which consisted of artists, gallery owners, and collectors, arranged to meet at Broodthaers’s house to discuss the Belgian art world and analyze the relationship between art and society. As the studio could not accommodate a large group of people, Broodthaers called an art handling company and asked them to bring several crates for his guests to sit on. When the crates arrived, he put them by the walls as if they contained artworks. "And then I said: this is a museum." He stuck postcards of nineteenth-century art onto the walls, wrote "Museum" on the window,  "19th-Century Section" on the garden door and "Department of Eagles" on the garden wall. This is how the museum was born, "not out of concept," as Broodthaers said, "but out of circumstances. The concept came later." After he opened the museum during the first meeting and discussion at his house, Broodthaers paid great attention to the rituals and details that make any museum the bureaucratic institution that it is, printing invitations in a special font, designing notes, observing the opening times, inventing its structure with various department and sections…

(Section Documentaire)

The museum’s second section, also represented in this exhibition, took place in August 1969 on the beach of the coastal municipality of De Haan on the North Sea coast of Belgium. For this section, Broodthaers drew a floor plan of the museum in the sand and surrounded it with museum signs prohibiting the touching of exhibits in French and Flemish. Broodthaers assisted by his friend, art collector Herman Daled, wore both similar caps (one with a blue and the other with a green visor), on which he wrote the word ‘museum.’ The floor plan was soon washed away by the tide, and all that was left were the prohibiting notes and photographs taken by the artist’s wife Maria Gilissen. These photographs are the only documentary evidence of the museum’s existence. What has remained of the museum? Prohibiting notes, the traces of bureaucratic routines? What is the role of the photograph? Who or what preserves the memory of the museum and its artefacts? Or can everything be erased by the rising tide on a sunny day?