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The Royal Academy of Art The Hague is the oldest Academy in The Netherlands. In the 16th century there’s already mention of a Lucas guild in the Hague. In 1656 a separation of the guild arose as the Pictura brotherhood. This separation was meant to organise the true artists separate from the bad painters. In 1682 the Pictura Brotherhood founded an Academy, which was the foundation for our current Academy. This Academy was mainly meant to give the brotherhood members the opportunity to advance their skills in drawing. 

The idea to organise this education came from several painters who had worked in Rome and from that international orientation had a desire for giving the painting community in The Hague an academic and international appearance. This also suited the Hague as a courtly city at that time. 

Two aspects come together that have played a part in the history of this academy more often. Stimulating the artistic climate in the surrounding environment, but always from an international point of view. From 1780 the Academy has become completely independent of the Pictura Brotherhood and it becomes an Academy free of cost for everyone. 

Building at the Prinsessegracht

The end of the eighteenth centry was a period of economical and political decay. For the Academy these were difficult times as well. The Academy is prominent again after 1821. From that time the Academy was combined with the newly found School for Civil Architecture. 

After having a home in the Korenbeurs and the Boterwaag, the Academy moved to her own building on the Prinsessegracht in 1839. The neo-classical building, designed by Zeger Reyers, the master architect of the city, was a true temple for art. With the disappearance of the guilds in the nineteenth century technical education became more important. The Academy played a part in this as well. Taking a close look at the lists of students from those times, one might conclude that it seemed more like a technical school than an Arts Academy. Also, a teacher training arises that will hold a significant position within the institute until the seventies. The paining community in the Hague blossoms in the nineteenth century. Famous artists like G.H. Breitner, Willem Maris, Jacob Maris and Johannes Bosboom were then trained in this Academy. 

Independent trainings

Besides drawing, painting and architecture, there has been a training for art teachers in The Hague since the end of last century. In the twentieth century evening courses were introduced next to the daytime courses and for a while there were courses offered on Sunday mornings. Under the influence of, amongst others, the Bauhaus, interest arose for the applied arts in the designing courses. In 1929 the Academy started a course called ‘Advertorial Drawing and Furniture Construction’. The principal, dr. eng. J.H. Plantega made these new tasks possible. Renowned teachers in those days were Kiljan, Citroen, Schuitema and Alons. Under their direction the courses grew into independent departments called Graphic and Typographic Designing and Interior. 

Towards a modern academy

The Academy’s building had been a clear reference to the antique history. Obviously, in this period of time in which the school changed into a modern institute in which design has a clear position, the building had to be modernised and meet the new architectonic standards. This all happened when Plantenga was principal of the Academy. 

Under the influence of Bauhaus new courses were started in Graphic Design, the department of Advertorial Design and Furniture Construction. Teachers with new views were recruited whose lessons clearly matched the avant-garde of the twentieth century: Kiljan, Schuitema, Citroen and Alons played a major part in this. Photography gained an important position within the department of Advertisement. 

The Academy was a pioneer in the Netherlands during those years. In 1938 a new Academy building arose at the location of the old temple. The new building was a monument of modernism, completely in style with the new educational process, and designed by Plantenga, eng. J.W.E. Buijs and J.B. Lürsen. After the war, the principal, B. Th. Hev, was given the permission by Royal Decree to found a course in Industrial Design. This is currently one of the oldest courses for industrial design in the Netherlands.

Innovations in the last fifty years

In 1957 with its 275th anniversary, the Academy received the predicate Royal. In that year the Academy and the HTS (technical college) became separated permanently. During the next several years art education was to be modernised in three phases. Of course the Arts Academy joined these changes. In 1968 a number of craft schools officially became art academies as institutes for higher education.

In the eighties several independent institutes merged into greater schools. In the same manner the Royal Academy of Arts merged with the MTS for Photography and Photonics. A year later the Royal Academy and the Royal Conservatory (Dutch: Koninklijk Conservatorium, KC) together became the College of Expressive Arts, Music and Dance. 

The last phase of the renewal started with renewing the building that arose in 2000. All courses for expressive arts and design could fit into one building at the Prinsessegracht. With respect to the original architecture, the architects of Mourik Vermeulen in The Hague brought a new structure to the building. The joined location was officially opened on 29 March 2000 by her Majesty Queen Beatrix. In the same year dr. Chris Rehorst resigned and Jack Verduyn Lunel became principal. He is a former elder of The Hague and former managing director of the Federation of Artists Societies. 

In 2001 the College went into collaboration with Leiden University and a new Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts came into life. At this faculty the KC and KABK work together with the university in research programmes and new study methods are developed. This was the first formalised cooperation between a university and an arts institute in the Netherlands. From that time on it has become an option for students to study at the Academy of Arts as well as Leiden University at the same time.

In our education the attention for new technologies and new media have been expanded drastically which one can see with new workshops and studios and other facilities as well as with new courses like ArtScience and Interactive/Media/Design. 


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Last updated: 2016-10-14


   
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