How at least 1 in 10 cultural objects could find a new private home by redesignating our heritage

Published on August 27th 2019 on
An article by Arjen Pels Rijcken

As many in the cultural industry know, it is now estimated that 80% of all of our cultural heritage worldwide is put into storage. Nine out of ten of those objects will not be accessible for the public any time soon.

This means that millions of objects will not see much daylight on the short term, or often even in the long run. A significant amount of cultural wealth that we’re not able to share with the public. The reasons are obvious, there’s not enough room, funding, or it’s simply not the right time to put it on display. But also, a lot of these objects are preserved but will never be part of a core collection ready to be displayed in an exhibit. Where there is often still a keen interest for these objects by the public.

Still a great interest for those objects that are currently in storage
Again, nine out of ten objects are stored away from the public. Now imagine that at least 15% of the stored objects are still of great interest to private owners, who would be thrilled to have the object brought into their home for proper display and renewed appreciation. This would require that these objects be “redesignated”: a process to make specific parts of our cultural heritage available to be owned by private collectors or even afficionado with ak een interest in certain types of objects.

. . . 15% of cultural objects in storage right now are eligible
for redesignation, which makes for millions of beautiful
pieces ready to be brought back for private display . . .

An already ongoing shift in our cultural sector in the purpose of these objects
More and more museums are open to this thought of redesignating some of the objects in their collections. In The Netherlands, a multitude of museums are looking into the benefits of deacessionising, saving the costs of storage and preservation. This in the next few years will make available up to millions of cultural objects which are eligible for redesignating: for them to get a new home, to be displayed in people’s collections or even simply in their living rooms. Think of the value we would bring to collectors, the beautiful gifts we would make available for loved ones. And on the business side, the amount of money and effort saved on storage and conservation of these objects.

15% of all stored cultural heritage eligible to be redesignated
Many Dutch museums now state that 15% of all their objects in storage can be deaccessioned. This is a process with obviously quite a few moving parts and stakeholders. But nevertheless, it is evident that now is a time where one can offer some of these beautiful pieces back to the public.

Supporting this movement of deaccesionising through non-profit efforts
It’s a process that requires the work of specialists to not only properly assess the possible value, but also being able to actually make it available for purchase.
At the start of 2019, we founded MuseumDepotShop, a non-profit organisation that helps facilitate the process of deaccessioning and redesignating cultural objects. To make these objects available to the public, we help catalog and restore these beautiful pieces back to possible former glory. And even though not all objects are of the quality or level of interest that they are eligible for redesignation, many beautiful pieces have already found a new home. Ready to be displayed in someone’s private collection or living room.

. . . we made national news when we first launched the
cultural heritage webshop: it sold out in under 4 hours . . .

There’s a story behind many of these pieces
With the help of specialists in valuing and restoring various types of objects, these sometimes restored objects have many a story to tell. Our team investigates and documents on their background to really shine a light on the rich history that some of these pieces have. An additional part of the team’s efforts is maintaining the webshop which helps sell these objects to private owners on a regular basis. Marketing these objects to their possible new owners is vital to close the circle on redesignating them.

An obvious interest of the public for redesignated cultural heritage
When we officially launched the platform we made national news. NOS, RTL, Algemeen Dagblad and many more national media covered the grand opening of our webshop. This resulted in a full sell out within 4 hours after the launch. Now a few months in, we have an ongoing operation to help museums and cultural institutions offer their deaccessioned objects for sale to the public. With over 25.000 people who signed up for our collection updates within the first week, we knew we were on the right track to help further facilitate this movement for Dutch museums and cultural institutions.

The next step is to discover potential for deaccesionising in other countries
Now, further research brought to light that museums in other countries are interested in a similar operation. With our cultural heritage specialists, we plan to approach these countries to further investigate the need for redesignating parts of their cultural heritage. North-European countries will be targeted first and we expect that other countries will soon follow. We strive to help bring some of the cultural wealth, which is now often inaccessibly stored away, back to the public.

Want to know more about deaccessionising and redesignating cultural heritage?
Are you affiliated with a cultural organisation and would you like more information on the redesignation of cultural heritage? As a first step, please register so we can keep you posted on further developments, research and stories of other museums and collectors.

Please sign up here:

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Heritage at Home
A new life for redesignated cultural objects

Heritage at Home – also known as MuseumDepotShop – is a non-profit organisation founded in 2018, that helps the cultural sector and specifically museums to deaccesionise and redesignate parts of their collection. Our team is made up of specialists in the field of legal and ethical assessments, art restoration, cultural storage & transport and marketing communications.

Get in touch for opportunities
In line with our mission to bring back stored cultural heritage to the public sector, we are open for preliminary talks and opportunities. Don’t hesitate to contact us by sending an e-mail to info[at]