In March 2017 Visual Arts students, together with their peers in the School of Conservation, made a week-long visit to Amsterdam as part of a biannual extended study trip. Breaking the journey at Ghent, a number of students visited St Bavo’s Cathedral and the famous Van Eyck altarpiece, before traveling on to Amsterdam where we were based for most of the trip.
A highlight of the trip was the midweek visit to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, particularly to see the Mad About Surrealism exhibition which included objects from the Edward James Collection. As well as being especially rewarding for Conservation students to see objects that they had worked on at West Dean on public display, it was fantastic for Visual Arts students to see some of the material held in the Edward James Archive (to which they have access during their studies) in another context. A number of familiar objects from the collection at West Dean were on display, alongside an incredible array of other examples of surrealist art. Students were also given tours behind the scenes at the Museum, including storage spaces and conservation laboratories.
In addition to these joint trips, each programme followed an individual itineraries, with Visual Arts students taking in the broad range of venues, from museums, galleries and contemporary art spaces, across Amsterdam; from the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Musuem to FOAM, from a tour of projects focusing on nature, biotechnology and art+science at Mediamatic, to three floors of exhibitions at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.
Francine Norris, Director of Education at West Dean: “This was an invaluable, educational experience for students who benefited from special access to a range of museums, galleries, conservation workshops and other related institutions, enhancing their knowledge and helping them establish professional networks for the future”.