The setting is a white conference room in the pristine offices of Amsterdam’s world-famous museum of modern art, the Stedelijk. The museum’s leading curators and administrators (all white), including Director Rein Wolfs, convene to discuss the government’s diversity and inclusion mandate, a new requirement for continued financial support. How does a major cultural institution go about changing course dramatically — to exhibit work by people of color, women, LGBTQ+ artists, and those who suffered under the Netherlands’ 250 years of colonial rule — and also reform the decision-making process?
With extraordinary candor and not a little humor, these well-intentioned museum professionals endeavor to empower nonwhite voices, exhibit a broader swath of humanity, address problematic signage, and confront their colonial past. But can they accept new conceptions of important, relevant, and exciting art? Will the museum have to jettison its Mondrians, de Koonings, Chagalls, and Picassos?
Note: The film’s title is from a Guerrilla Girls sign referencing white men as the standard for art museum exhibits.
With support from the Richard Brick, Geri Ashur, and Sara Bershtel Fund for Social Justice Documentaries, the Helen Frankenthaler Endowed Fund for Films on Art, and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Fund.
‘White Balls on Walls‘, 2022, a film by Sarah Vos, 90 Minutes, The Netherlands, Icarus Films win English and Dutch with English subtitles.
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