Field trip Graphic Design: Meermanno Museum

23 maart 2023

This field trip is part of the Graphic Design project weeks: Questions to Dismantle the Masters’ House.

For the research week the Graphic Design department visited Museum Meermanno, a museum of books. There was a weird sensation when we visited that in some of the rooms time had stood still for several hundred years. It felt as if the printing press had just been invented and books were becoming an increasingly popular way to document, preserve and archive the world. Of course, along with this proliferation of books came the politics of design, printing and publishing.

This field trip has been guided by Benjamin Earl and Maarten Cornel in collaboration with Ricky Tax and Aafke Boerma.

Photo: Benjamin Earl

We were given a tour around the museum by Ricky Tax and Aafke Boerma and they highlighted this very topic. This collection of books was as much political as it was archival. Through their presentation they revealed some of those politics that you see museums still struggle with today. What to keep, what not to keep and what to give back.

In the days after the museum visit, we spent time together thinking through how to create a research question. A lot of the conversations we had focused on this particular struggle of archiving. With such a wealth of knowledge and books, how can the archive be made accessible? How can the political position of the archive be revealed through its own materials? And how does the archive shape and form a historical narrative that comes to be commonplace?

These are big questions that you could spend years trying to answer. But the research week felt like an important beginning in to forms of investigation that stem from first-hand experience. Researching through bodily senses and intuition is difficult and takes a lot of courage. But in three days we had, everyone who participated made significant steps into becoming researchers themselves.