AkzoNobel Art Foundation: History

The AkzoNobel Art Foundation was founded in 1996 at the request of the then Chairman of the Board, Mr Kees J.A. van Lede.

The determination at that time within the company to start dealing with art, and in an integral manner at that, received an immediate boost with the setting-up of the AkzoNobel Art Foundation as an independent, not-for-profit foundation with board members from the top levels of AkzoNobel and including influential representatives from the field of culture. The Art Foundation was tasked with laying the foundations for the collection and drawing up a policy for art and acquisitions.

Hester Alberdingk Thijm was appointed director to see to this. The first step taken toward a professional collection policy was the carrying-out of extensive research, within and beyond AkzoNobel as well as in the world of culture in the Netherlands and further afield. Art can serve to inspire us and help us see things in relative terms. It is, so to speak, a way of bringing in the outside world to where we are. This comes as a purely haptic and visual experience in the first instance, but can go on to spark a secondary experience, that of feeling impelled to look deeper into that initial impression that we registered with our senses. Art, then, has the potential to pique our curiosity, induce us to reflect, entice us to shift our perspective.

These are the philosophical premises on which the AkzoNobel art collection has begun to take shape over recent years. One of our triumphs was the acquisition of the sculpture Victoria Regia (First Night Bloom) by Keith Edmier. Forming the collection, however, was not the only factor we gave thought to: internal and external communications were high on our list of priorities from the outset. In that regard, the publication of our catalogue Proof of Principle (2003) was a memorable milestone. Commissioning artists, setting up exhibitions on our own premises and offsite, and contributing to worthwhile projects have from the day we began been firmly-established activities undertaken by the AkzoNobel Art Foundation. A more extensive written and illustrated overview of our activities, broken down by year, can be found under the Projects tab of our website.