Steven ten Thije

Steven ten Thije (1980) is research curator, working on a PhD at the University in Hildesheim supported by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. His research topic is the exchange between theory and practice in making collection displays of modern and contemporary art in the 20th century. He is also part of the team that organized the exhibition program Play Van Abbe. Aside of this he is coordinator of The Autonomy Project ( and has published various articles and reviews, among others in ‘Exhibiting the New Art, ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969’, (2010).


  • 2005-2007 Master Philosophy of in a Specific Science at UvA (graduated with distinction)
  • 2004-2007 Research Master Art Science at UvA (graduated with distinction)
  • 1999-2004 Master Art History of the Modern Era at UvA (average 8.0)
  • 1999-2001 Propedeuse Art History at UvA
  • 1993-1999 VWO- at the Daltonscholengemeeenschap in The Hague


PhD Candidate/Research Curator – In June 1009 the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and the University of Hildesheim have started a collaboration in which a researcher would conduct a PhD-research while working in the museum and teach at the university. The research deals with the developments in the display of collections in museums for modern and contemporary art in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The research results out of the experimental exhibitions of Plug-In and the Living Archive in the Van Abbemuseum and is closely related to the program Play Van Abbe. In this context the research is conducted using different formats, also curatorial. A first result of this was the co-curating of the exhibition ‘Museum Modules’ as part of Play Van Abbe 2 together with Diana Franssen.

Research Focus

My position at the university is a new shared positioned that is supported by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, a modern and contemporary art museum. In this position I work as a teacher and PhD-candidate at the university and in the curatorial team of Van Abbe, where I am primarily responsible for situating our current activities and exhibitions in broader art historical, or art theoretical frame. My research focus therefore lies on questions related to museum policy, collection building and maintenance and exhibitions making. Due to my joined background and art history and art philosophy I approach these fields by looking into how the museum context affects the way in which one can experience a work and how this determines how one ‘knows’ a work. As research curator I also perform staff functions in the museum as curating and co-organizing public events like lectures and symposia. See my resume for a more detailed account of the type of projects I am or was involved in.

Current research project


In the late 20th century the profession of curating – the making exhibitions – took a significant turn with the emergence of ‘independent curator’ or ‘exhibition curator’ – the freelance professional who takes the making of exhibitions to be his or her primal concern. My research focuses on this last development, which has produced strong polemics in the last decades. My ambition is to demonstrate that this last shift is the result of a parallel and entangled reorganization within the field of art history and the practice of making art, next to being informed by transformations in forms of public (mass) communication that resulted out of the spreading of new media as film and photography. In my research I analysis curating as situated at the cross road of these different development that trace back to the first decades of the 20th century.



2011-2012 co-curator exhibition together with Charles Esche, Bart de Baere, Anders Kreuger and Jan de Vree of Spirits of Internationalism, 6 European Collections 1956 – 1986 (opening January 2012). The exhibition takes place within the context of the new Europea collaboration L’Internationale. This collaboration exists out of 4 museums (MACBA, Barcelona, Spain, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia, MuHKA, Antwerp, Belgium, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands) and two artists archives (Julius Koller Society, Bratislava, Slovakia, KwieKulik Archive, Warsaw, Poland). Within the framework of the project each museum realizes an exhibition with the collections of the partners that addresses the period 1956 – 1986. The exhibition of the Van Abbemuseum coincides with the exhibition in MuHKA and is organized in close collaboration with MuHKA, treating the two exhibitions as one.

2011 production coordinator of a three day symposium within the framework of The Autonomy Project. Key-note speakers Jacques Rancière, Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Peter Osborne, Franco Berardi, Gerald Raunig, Isabell Lorey, Adrian Martin, Maria Gough and others.

2010 co-organizing symposium/master class with Brian Holmes and Angela Melitopolous, guests Armin Medosch, Merijn Oudenampsen, Willem van Weelden

2009 curated together with Diana Franssen the exhibition Museum Modules, part of Play Van Abbe, Chapter 2. Participants: Kai-Uwe Hemken and Jakob Gebert, Museum of American Art, Florian Schneider and Kim de Groot and Wendelien van Oldenborgh.


  1. Autonome kunst als proces, Reflecties op het Autonomieproject’, in OPEN, Cahier over kunst en het publieke domein, no. 23, 2012, p. 6 – 15

  2. From a Collection of Objects to a Collection of Relationships, ‘Play Van Abbe’ and the Museum in the Age of ‘Global Art’, in Mariska ter Horst (ed), Changing Perspectives, Dealing with Globalisation in the Presentation and Collection of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam, KIT Publishers, 2012, pp. 130 – 145

  3. I do not believe there is any such thing as Modern Art.’ Rudi Fuchs en de theorie als beginpunt’, in De Witte Raaf, No.156, March-April 2012, p. 14

  4. Interview over Autonomie Project’, in Metropolis M, Jrg. 34, no. 4 (2011), p. 34 - 37

  5. The Silent Singing of the Paper Page – On the Exhibitionary Logic of the Artist Book’, in Laurie Cluitmans and Arnisa Zeqo (ed.), He Disappeared into Complete Silence, Rereading a Single Artwork by Louise Bourgeois, (exh. Cat.) De Hallen, Haarlem, (Published Onomatopee), 2011, p. 83 – 87

  6. Een origineel beginpunt’, in Radically Yours, no. 1, Van Abbemuseum, 2011, p. 12 - 16

  7. Steven ten Thije and Charles Esche, ‘Zijlstra moet niet shoppen’, in NRC Handesblad, 17-6-2011, CS p. 3

  8. Clare Butcher, Annie Fletcher, Steven ten Thije (ed), The Exorcist, 2011, Van Abbemuseum

  9. Clare Butcher, John Byrne, Steven ten Thije (ed.), Autonomy Newspaper 2#, Reflections, 2011, Onomatopee

  10. letter’, in Annja Krautgasse, Verzeichnis, Wien (Schlebrügge), 2010, p. 18 - 23

  11. Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ Public Reception in the Netherlands and Switzerland’, in Rattemeyer, Christian and others, Exhibiting the New Art, ‘Op losse schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969, London (Aferall Books), 2010, p. 212 – 220

  12. Interview with Marius Boezem’, in Rattemeyer, Christian and others, Exhibiting the New Art, ‘Op losse schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969, London (Aferall Books), 2010, p. 240 - 248

  13. Clare Butcher, John Byrne, Steven ten Thije (ed.) Autonomy Newspaper 1#, Positions, 2010, Onomatopee

  14. Clare Butcher, Diana Franssen, Annie Fletcher, Steven ten Thije (ed), The Copyist, 2009, Van Abbemuseum

  15. Reading (through) the Mask, Philosophical Reflections on the Masquerade’, in Frédérique Berghotz and Iberia Pérez (ed), (Mis)Reading Masquerade, Published as part of the program ‘If I can’t Dance’, publisher Revolver, 2010, p. 50 - 59

  16. In discussie met de tijd – het museum en het moderne’, in, Fletcher, A., Franssen, D., and ten Thije, S., (ed), Plug in to Play, Van Abbemuseum, 2009, p. 105 – 110

  17. review, ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive ? De 11de Biënnale van Istanbul’, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 142, november december 2009, p. 20 - 21

  18. Henry, U., Steetskamp, J., and ten Thije, S. (ed.), Antonis Pittas, Untitled ( ), Idea Books, 2009, text 1-21

  19. Work descriptions in Once is Nothing, Individual Systems, ed. C. Esche and M. Hlavajova, exhibition catalogue Brussel Biennial, 2008, p. 36 -50

  20. ‘Kijken in het publieke. Over de retrospectieve van Wendelien van Oldenborgh’, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 136, november-december 2008, p. 17

  21. ‘Het paradoxale wit van het museum’, in Wit is een oude meester, (cat. tent.) 2008, p. 19

  22. reviewer of the day’ on the website in August 2008 (Consisted out of writing a 300/400 word review of one artwork every day for a month.)

  23. ‘Gerhard Richters Domfenster 2007’, in De Witte Raaf, nr 133, mei – juni 2008, p. 11

  24. review ‘Berlin Biënnale, When Things Cast No Shadows’, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 133, mei – juni 2008, p. 17

  25. ‘Terese Andeszka, een interpretatie’, in Simulacrum, jrg. 15, nr. 2, May 2007, p.36 - 38

  26. review ‘Skulptur Projekte 2007’ in Münster, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 129, September-October 2007, p. 7-9

  27. review ‘Gerhard Richter Archiv’ in Dresden, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 126, March-April, 2007, p. 25

  28. review ´I.p.v. Mashkov´ in het Gemeentemuseum te Den Haag, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 125, January-February 2007, p. 26

  29. review ‘Casper David Friedrich, Die Erfindung der Romantik’ in Hamburg, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 124, November-December 2006, p. 20

  30. review ‘Idealcity-Invisible cities’ in Zamošc, Polen, in De Witte Raaf, nr. 123, Sepember-October 2006, p. 25

  31. ‘De fotografische implosie van het waarnemen’ in Simulacrum, jrg. 14, nr. 2, 2006

  32. ‘Liefdevolle afbraak’, in Simulacrum, jrg. 13/14, nr. 4/1, 2006, p. 50-52

  33. ‘Architecture for Meaning’, in Van de Ven, S. (ed.), Interscape, Sandberg instituut Amsterdam, 2004 p. 20 -24


  1. lecture ‘Curating the Collection’ at the symposium ‘Treasure Chest or Tools, Some Histories and Speculations on Art Collections’, SALT, Istanbul, May, 26, 2012

  2. lecture on Spirits of Internationalism, Design Academy, Eindhoven, Febuary, 29, 2012

  3. presentation at ARCO, Madrid, Febuary, 15, 2012

  4. Introduction column, lecture series Facing Forwards, January, 13, 2012

  5. lecture at 5 year jubilee Public Movement, Tel Aviv, Museum of Fine Arts, December, 29, 2011

  6. moderation discussion Jan Verwoert in the framework of ‘I Can, I Can’t, I Care’, Vleeshal Middelburg, 14 November 2011

  7. lecture ‘Autonomy, Art, History and the Digital – Thoughts on the Future’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Banja Luka, Republika Srpksa, May 26, 2011

  8. moderator ‘Cheap and Chearfull – Culture industry or Culture prostitution’ discussion with Chris Dercon, Charles Esche and Arjo Klamer, Kurzfilmfestival Oberhause, May 8, 2011

  9. ‘Economies of truth and money’, lecture Terminal Convention, Cork, March 2011

  10. the Museum and the Archive, lecture/discussion with Galit Eilat, Argos, Brussels, Noveber 6, 2010

  11. Jef Cornelis, on Castello di Rivoli, Museum M, Leuven (symposium Koen Brams, Dirk Pultau), October 11, 2010

  12. two introduction lectures Rietveld Academy 2010 Foundation Year on ‘modernity, photography and the museum’, October 7 and 21, 2010

  13. response Alexander Galloway, art and the interface, Lectoraat Kunst en Publieke Ruimte, 2010, Amsterdam (symposium the Wedge Between Private and Public), April 22, 2010

  14. C. D. Friedrich and the birth of exhibition space’, held at Fontys Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Tilburg, March, 25, 2009,

  15. ‘Het museum: een publiek gegeven’, held at the symposium ‘Overdracht als kunst als overdracht’, Amsterdam, January 17, 2009,

  16. The museum in the post-white-cube-age’, held at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, June 27, 2008,

  17. ‘Realism, Abstraction and Radiation in the work of Daniel Richter’,

Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, March 17, 2008