.From the Collection | Museum for a Small City / Rebuild by Richard Venlet

08.02 until 21.02.2021

The work of Richard Venlet is strongly related to the functional, historical and architectural space in which it is shown. He designs environments that also work as presentation models and in which the culture of collecting and exhibiting is explored in conjunction with other artists, architects, curators and theorists.

‘Museum for a Small City’*, which has been part of the S.M.A.K. collection since 2013, specifically investigates the activities and function of a museum. Each presentation of the artwork is conceived as an activation. It unfolds on the basis of changing selections from the S.M.A.K. archive and collection, which are further expanded upon in conversations, lectures, workshops and performances. In this way, the artist provides the museum with an instrument for opening up its history in an alternative way and, in so doing, to formulate contemporary narratives. The multifaceted status that this work from the collection has consequently acquired – as a display, research instrument, discursive space and autonomous artwork – forms the starting point of this third activation entitled ‘Rebuild’.

* ‘Museum for a Small City’ is named after an unrealised museum design (1941-43) by architect Mies van der Rohe, in which the architecture is radically simplified in order to emphasise the works on display. Venlet has not only borrowed the title of this architectural study, but also the endless possibilities of the grid that organises his floor object as a modular form.

Download the history of Museum for a Small City.
This document (in Dutch) presents the history of ‘Museum for a Small City’. It contains detailed information about all the exhibitions and related activities to date, and was designed by Joris Kritis.

Lectures | Museum for a Small City/Rebuild

This autumn, S.M.A.K. will launch a series of lectures in the context of the exhibition ‘Museum for a Small City/Rebuild’ by Richard Venlet. The series connects the exhibition, which examines the S.M.A.K. collection in its own idiosyncratic way, with ideas relating to the contemporary efforts of museums to revalue their history. This often involves a critical analysis of museum collections and their foundations in exclusive canons. The invited speakers explain, each from their own practice, the urgency of this task. They highlight the importance of a broad interpretation of artistic production, exhibition contexts, collaborative models and critical pedagogy, in order to open up the art-historical construction to a polyphonic field of meaning.


  • 02.12.2020 at 20h: online lecture by Suzanne Cotter, director, Mudam, Luxembourg, on public-private alliances in the context of her collaboration with the Pinault collection
  • 10.12.2020: online lecture by Clémentine Deliss, associate curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, on ‘The Metabolic Museum’
  • round-table discussion with Richard Venlet and others on the theme of ‘The artist as curator’ (subject to confirmation)

With the support of 



Guidelines for a smooth visit during COVID-19


With the support of