The Ria and Lex Daniëls Collection at the Gemeentemuseum

Miniature Museum Ria and Lex Daniels
Oct 4, 2013 6:18PM

The Gemeentemuseum has been granted the loan of a unique and sizable collection offering an extraordinary overview of modern and contemporary art. Numbering around 2,000 works, the collection is the biggest ever granted to the Gemeentemuseum on long-term loan. It is the property of private collectors Ria and Lex Daniëls and includes works by celebrated international artists like Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Asger Jorn, Yves Klein, Joseph Beuys, Ed Ruscha, Louise Bourgeois, Panamarenko, Marlene Dumas and Damien Hirst. A completely new museum is being built to house this vast private collection and is due to open in October.

The collection includes work by over 850 artists from more than 80 different countries. It is remarkable not only because of the quality of the artists represented, but also in terms of size. Because the photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures by internationally renowned artists brought together by the collectors are all in a miniature format. The effect is astonishing. Although the tiny works look exactly like those of the major artists concerned, you constantly ask yourself whether they can really be genuine at that size. A brand new museum has been designed to provide a worthy home for the collection and is a work of art in itself. The design by Kossmann and De Jong is inspired by Maison d’Artiste, an architectural design produced by Theo van Doesburg and Cornelis van Eesteren in 1923 but never executed. The new museum is therefore an edifice of great charm.

Unknown aspect of an oeuvre

Many modern artists make miniature works of this kind to give away to friends, for example as New Year greetings. Although it is not unusual for such works to throw an unexpected light on the oeuvre of the artist concerned, they tend to remain in private ownership and are therefore virtually unknown to the general public. The works in Ria and Lex Daniëls’ collection are unique, because they were created in this format at the explicit request of the collectors. The collection is more than just a playful curiosity. Its artistic value should not be underestimated. A cage by Tetsumi Kudo or sculpture by Carl Andre is a precious thing and lends an extra dimension to the artist’s oeuvre.


The new museum forms the heart of the ‘Wonderkamers’ – the Gemeentemuseum’s interactive exhibition space, which has been completely overhauled and updated over the past year and is due to re-open this autumn. It is rare for a museum of art to devote a whole floor to interactive educational displays dedicated to introducing art to a young public. Families and school parties will find this a marvellous place to learn about the visual arts, architecture, the decorative arts and fashion in a fresh, entertaining and interactive way. Youngsters often think that art is boring but the new Wonderkamers are proof positive that just the opposite is true. As Gemeentemuseum director Benno Tempel says, “Visitors to the new Wonderkamers won’t just find a challenging bit of entertainment; they’ll really get to grips with art. Until now, museums have often kept those two worlds apart. A trip to the Wonderkamers won’t be just any old museum visit; it’ll be an amazing outing. And the big question now is ‘Are you up for it?”

From this autumn onwards, visitors to the museum shop can buy a special catalogue of top items in Ria en Lex Daniëls’ collection. All the proceeds will go to Dutch children’s cancer charity Stichting Kinderen Kankervrij (KiKa). Note to editors: Further information available from Ria and lex Daniels +31650600600 or [email protected]

Miniature Museum Ria and Lex Daniels