The 20th Independent Realist Exhibition – Museum Møhlmann, Appingedam
By Annelies Meester
Going against the tide with a sense of reality for twenty years.
There is a very special private museum for representational art in the Netherlands: Museum Møhlmann. This museum was not founded by a millionaire with a love for art, but by an artist named Rob Møhlmann. The museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is known as a national platform for Dutch representational art.
Rob Møhlmann (1956) was forced to learn the art of painting by himself due to the lack of available quality training. He had been annoyed by the disdain with which representative art was pushed aside, ignored and no longer seen as ‘art.’ In 1998 he mounted an exhibition to show what Dutch Realism stood for. He published a catalog to accompany it and called it the First Independent Realist Exhibition. The artists were allowed to make their own choices about which works were to be exhibited, even if the work was not for sale or had an ‘unsaleable’ subject.
The first Independent Realist Exhibition was a success for both the artists and the public, and a second show was organized the following year. It received the attention of national Dutch television.
The unsubsidized museum moved from a small farm to an empty steam dairy factory. The annual realist exhibition quickly became a household name and drew people from all over the country. By 2008, the independent museum had become too small again, so it moved to a huge farmhouse in the historic town of Appingedam, which is located in the Northern Netherlands.
The Northern Netherlands has been the center for Dutch representational art for many years – uninterrupted skill-based training courses have been held there since the 1970s.
Currently, the 20th Independent Realistic Exhibition is being shown at Museum Møhlmann, with 127 renowned artists showing some 500 works. The exhibition shows the quality and the diversity of Dutch representational art in the continuation of an age-old painterly tradition. Museum Møhlmann has become a household name in the Netherlands. In addition to the exhibitions, it has also gathered an important collection of contemporary realists, which is on permanent display. The annual Independent Realistic Exhibition has become an important benchmark, annually presenting leading Dutch representative art with allure.
The 20th independent realistic exhibition can be seen until 24 December 2018 at Museum Møhlmann, Westersingel 102-104, 9901 GK Appingedam, Netherlands