The focus within this ethnography of the revision process of the collection presentation of Museum Dr. Guislain during spring 2019, is on how the meaning of outsider art is constructed and negotiated in this process. How is outsider art defined and for which purposes? Within the term outsider art, some of the core issues that receive more attention, not only in Museum Dr. Guislain, but in the wider museum sector and society too, become visible: processes of in- and exclusion, (de)stigmatisation, telling hidden histories of traditionally marginalised groups and multiperspectivalism. It is argued that in their history and current practice both museums and outsider art have the potential to—in the worst case—promote social exclusion and at best promote social inclusion. Among the most important data for this research are the semi-structured interviews with ten people involved in the revision process and the walls with ideas, notes, and pictures created by the exhibition makers. In the new collection presentation, the exhibition makers do not set outsider art apart. They only mention the term outsider art within the context of its history. For contemporary artworks they do not differentiate, which is an inclusive approach. They choose works because of their content, and only provide with personal details of the artist when relevant. Opinions like these are widely shared among the museum staff. The question is to what extent they want to promote these opinions. More and more people working at Museum Dr. Guislain seem to be in favour of taking a stance in debates such as the outsider art debate. This seems to be part of bigger developments and ambitions within the museum. Museum Dr. Guislain in general, and the new collection presentation in particular, have the potential to function as agents of social inclusion. However, as long as the exhibition ‘The Cabinets’ is still on show too, a complete art exhibition with works selected on ‘outsiderness,’ the museum does not transcend the excluding component of outsider art completely.

Additional Metadata
Keywords kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, outsider art, museums, transition, social inclusion, ethnography
Thesis Advisor B. Boross
Persistent URL
Series Master Arts, Culture & Society
A. Bloos. (2019, June 10). Including outsider art. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from