Francesca: Broodthaers’s idea for his museum evolved out of a particular historical moment. In 1968, students and activists across Europe and the US demonstrated against entrenched powers, like the government and the military, and rallied behind workers, minorities, and other disenfranchised groups.
In Brussels, artists occupied a gallery at the Palais des Beaux-Arts to criticize the commercialization of art. Broodthaers became one of the group’s leaders.
Broodthaer, Christophe Cherix:
In 1968, after this wave of protests we experienced, a few friends—artists, collectors, gallery people—and myself got together to try to analyze what was going wrong with the Belgian art world, to analyze the relationship Art-Society. We chatted then we eventually decided to hold a meeting in my studio. We told everybody about it and I was expecting at least sixty or seventy people. Now, my studio is quite bare, there are only two or three chairs… where were these people going to sit? So I got the idea to telephone a transport company, Menkès—quite well known in Brussels—and to hire a few crates so the visitors could sit down. It seemed perfectly logical to me to seat them on these “signs” that make reference to the fact of packing art, crates in which paintings and sculptures are transported. I received the crates and installed them here in actually quite a special way, in fact as if they themselves were works of art. And then I said to myself: but actually that’s it, that’s the museum.