The Museum of Everything

March 5, 2016 – May 22, 2016 This exhibition has ended
Untitled (detail), c 1940/1960, Henry Darger. Courtesy of The Museum of Everything
The Kunsthal Rotterdam is proud to present The Museum of Everything, a major overview of international work from over a hundred alternative artists from the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Famous for its powerful and emotive installations, The Museum of Everything celebrates private and non-academic art-makers whose creations remain independent of art history and language.

The installation invites audiences to discover the mighty fairy-tale panoramas of Chicago janitor Henry Darger, the recycled kingdom of visionary Indian roads-engineer Nek Chand Saini, the towering visions of Chinese factory worker Guo Fengyi, and Sam Doyle, the African-American whose graphic visual histories inspired Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Imitators and false messiahs, take heed ... there is no such thing as outsider art!
The Museum of Everything

This monumental exhibition also includes some of the mid-20th century authors made famous by the artist Jean Dubuffet, such as Augustin Lesage, the miner and spiritualist, and the anonymous faces known as Les Barbus Müller. More recent discoveries include Romanian street collagist Ion Bîrlădeanu and Japanese wrestling fanatic Tomoyuki Shinki. There are artists from the Netherlands too, from the self-obsessed biographic illustrator Willem Van Genk, to emerging studio creators like Marianne Schipaanboord and Paulus de Groot. Throughout the space, these artworks are accompanied by short films and easy-to-read essays from internationally renowned artists, including David Byrne, Ed Ruscha, Marlene Dumas, John Baldessari, Grayson Perry and many more.

Discover the exhibition!


The Museum of Everything is not a typical art experience. The design of its shows are created in collaboration with Oscar nominated production designer Eve Stewart (Les Misérables) and have welcomed over 750,000 visitors worldwide. These careful installations lead the visitor deep into the personal worlds of unconventional creators, where the established rules of art are replaced by the visual language of dream, ritual and detail. 


The terms outsider art, naïve art, disabled art and primitive art are often used to describe the work of people who create outside the conventional art circuit. The Museum of Everything does not use these categories to define its artists. It speaks instead of private art-makers, non-academic creators and “the undiscovered, unintentional, untrained and unclassified artists of the modern era”. For The Museum of Everything is not just an exhibition, it is a philosophy for cultural equality. The British founder of The Museum of Everything, James Brett, speaks about this with insight: “It is our role to place these artists firmly in the context of Art History. Not to dismiss them as outsiders or in any way less. There may be others but they are the same. The Museum of Everything will always fight for the right of visual expression”.


Over the past few decades, the art world in the Netherlands has grown increasingly interested in the work of self-taught artists who display exceptional imagination and extraordinary talent. After major exhibitions in Paris, Moscow, Venice and London, the Kunsthal is proud to bring The Museum of Everything to Rotterdam. The exhibition promises to be one of the most important of its kind in Europe and the first on such a grand scale in the Netherlands. One room in particular is dedicated to the life’s work of Henry Darger, the most famous of the self-taught discoveries. His monumental illustrations are shown here in a series, revealing for the first time a visual storyline which was destroyed when his books were separated and sold for profit. Another space will house a towering corridor of painted scrolls by the Chinese factory worker Guo Fengyi. This visionary artist used her creative energies to balance the toxic illness from which she eventually died. Yet her legend lives on and has been showcased in recent years at the Hayward in London, the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh and the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Untitled (Child-Headed Whiplash Blengins) c 1940/1960, Henry Darger. Courtesy of The Museum of Everything

The Symposium of Everything

An accompanying satellite programme will take place at the Kunsthal Rotterdam and at various partner museums, art galleries, academies and universities throughout the show, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen and the Dolhuys Museum of Psychiatry in Haarlem. On 16 and 17 April 2016, the Kunsthal Rotterdam will also host The Weekend of Everything with workshops, lectures, guided tours, films, music and more. 

The Artists of Everything

The Museum of Everything includes work by the artists Ion Bîrlădeanu, Morton Bartlett, James Castle, Henry Darger, Sam Doyle, William Edmondson, Guo Fengyi, Willem van Genk, Paulus de Groot, Paul Laffoley, Augustin Lesage, Aleksander Lobanov, Martín Ramírez, Vasilij Romanenkov, Nek Chand Saini, Marianne Schipaanboord, Tomoyuki Shinki, Marcel Storr, George Widener, Scottie Wilson and many others.


The exhibition is a collaboration between Kunsthal Rotterdam and The Museum of Everything and was made possible with the support of the Gieskes Strijbis Fonds.



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