The exhibition Esteemed Brother is the starting point and the first part of the project Collections and collecting – work that we envisage will continue for some time. The origin is Kalmar konstmuseum’s collection, consisting of 3 368 registered works of art. The collection is mainly built on private donations, but also on some purchases, coloured by the times they were made in and the people who were in positions to make decisions and to choose.
Is there anything particularly special about this collection? Why does it look the way it does? What perspectives are missing? How do we make it accessible? How does a collection remain relevant? Can it be fair? What will museums and other cultural spaces look like in the future? We have reasons to return to these questions and many others.
Kalmar konstmuseum’s collection mainly reflects a selection of older art, sometimes related to Kalmar county and Öland. There are many interesting things to look at. But time does not stand still and we are keen to add new stories to it. Our surroundings, the people who live here, and what Kalmar looks like is in constant flux. It is not just a matter of how cities, towns and villages change, but also the landscape. Moreover, the conditions for artists, and the way they work change too.
New generations must have the opportunity to meet both historical and contemporary art, the local as well as the global. One method to better understand one’s surroundings could be through art depicting gone or changed environments. This might increase bonds to a place. To watch and let oneself be watched. But getting to know completely new places is at least as important. These might not all stay within the boundaries of Kalmar county. Our ambition is to expand the collection through new purchases and to make it relevant in a contemporary context.
Kalmar konstförening (Kalmar Art Society) was founded in 1917, but the work intensified in the 1930s and 1940s in an effort to achieve permanent premises for an art museum to house the growing collection as well as the exhibitions the society wanted to put on. Luckily, a collection of letters remains from the time when the idea of an art museum in Kalmar was taking shape. In this historical documentation there are of course blind spots, but these collated pieces from times gone by, together with the art collected through the years, voices and photographs from the past, start to form patterns.
To the impatient this might all seem a little dull, but placing events in chronological order brings structure to the past and patterns begin to emerge. That is why we start the exhibition Esteemed Brother chronologically – to help us find out what really happened, and how it all begun.