Guus van den Hout (*1960) studied art history at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. He is specialized in Italian Baroque Art and developed an interest in the applied arts.
His internship at Our Lord in the Attic lead to permanent employment. In 1988 he organized his first exhibition celebrating the centennial of the museum.
In 1990 he was appointed director/curator at age 29. He started an ambitious program of professionalisation and developed plans for a careful restoration and expansion of this valuable building, setting new standards to the approach of museum management.
Between 1985 and 2000 many Roman Catholic churches in Amsterdam were made redundant.
As a leading specialist and a member of the Episcopal Commission for Culture in the Diocese of Haarlem, Guus was asked for guidance and decision-making regarding the works of art involved and finding the proper solutions for deaccession. Many objects found their way into museum collections.
Between 1990 and 2000 public attendance tripled, partly as a result of an ambitious program of exhibitions and an aggressive public-relations approach. The exhibition on the religious paintings of Jacob de Wit (1695-1754) in 1995 was followed by a sequel on his profane paintings in the Biblical Museum in Amsterdam in 2000. Guus has been the leading expert on this important 18th century artist for more than 25 years.
During a sabbatical in 1998 Guus was welcomed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where he held the prestigious status of visiting director. After his return he decided it was time to take a next step in his career.
In 2001 he was appointed executive director of Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, the leading institution of Christian religious heritage
in the Netherlands and second after the Vatican Museums. The museum demanded new strategies to balance the shrinking attention regarding Christianity in Dutch society and, as a result, diminishing attendance.
During his directorate the historical buildings were fully restored, the permanent collections reinstalled and the organisation and overall policy were fully modernised. He had to economise, explore new roads to financing and sponsoring and set new standards that would attract new audiences. Guus introduced a new kind of exhibition which focused on themes that would appeal to wider audiences like spirituality, pilgrimages, gold and angels. He also made successful exhibitions with leading museums in Russia, Germany, France and the Vatican. Guus was closely involved with the first EU funded European project on Christian heritage: Converting Sacred Spaces. (At the right, left photo by Spank Moons)
In 2008 Museum Catharijneconvent received the Special Commendation for outstanding achievements from the European Museum Forum.
The Committee praised the renewal of the museum in setting new standards for institutions devoted to religious heritage by including contemporary art, targeting new audiences and especially the revolutionary children’s division.
In 2002 Pope John Paul II appointed Guus as a papal advisor for the cultural heritage of the Church, a position reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. He also served as a member of the board of the Dutch Museum Association and held many other positions in the public field, locally, nationally and internationally.
Photo: Heidi Wallheimer
After almost 10 years in Museum Catharijneconvent it was time for a change and also a move away from time consuming managerial duties. Guus started exploring new grounds and using his creative talents to fully concentrate on bringing art to the public. In 2013 he moved to Antwerp, Belgium. Between 2012 and 2016 he was involved in curating the exhibition Holy Places at Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp. In 2015 he worked as a temporary coordinator for the monumental churches in Antwerp.
In 2015 he initiated a Biennale for religious art in the area known as De Heilige Driehoek in Oosterhout. In three ancient monasteries 28 contemporary artists are creating new works of art which highlight the influence of tradition on the developments of Christian art. This presentation will take place in the autumn of 2017. Theme will be Love.
Guus has been fascinated by the world of art and antiques since his early childhood. He started his own collection at the age of 15. As a museum director he acquired many works of art to enrich the collections. In Museum Catharijneconvent he primarily focused his attention on contemporary art.
It goes without saying that he is specialized in Christian art, but his interests are very eclectic, ranging from classical art thru Contemporary art. His focus remains on western art and culture.
Guus is a passionate lover of opera especially the 19th and 20th century German and Italian composers. Therefor his bucket list contains the staging of one of Wagner’s opera’s, preferably Parsifal.
Marjon Takken (*1960) started working after finishing college.
Her first job was at the company which built the Oosterschelde Stormvloedkering (Storm Surge Barrier). Marjon is still very proud of having been a part of this huge project which is famous all over the world.
In 1998 she started working as a secretary to the director of a nursing home. This implied doing a lot of different tasks to for fill which she finds energizing.
In 2002 Marjon became employed as the secretary of the Mayor of the city of Spijkenisse. After three months she was asked to become the Chief of the Mayor’s Cabinet. Marjon was responsible for organizing important events, like Memorial Day, receptions, visiting sister cities, the procuration of Royal honours, as receptions with ministers of state. A personal highlight was the visit of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 2004.
After moving to Utrecht Marjon started to work with Guus van den Hout in 2006 at Museum Catharijneconvent. At first she worked as his secretary, but soon became his personal assistant. He asked Marjon to organize the openings of several exhibitions in addition to her secretarial tasks. Some of these events were also attended by Royalty. Guus and Marjon had lots of fun, worked very hard and had a great time.
When Guus left the museum in 2010 they stayed in touch. In January 2016 he asked Marjon to join forces within Guus van den Hout Art & Advice. Because this involves a lot of different tasks and challenges and she can make a difference by developing exciting new and prestigious projects, Marjon happily agreed. Now both can focus on their best skills and make a difference. Working together is a great joy for Marjon.