Obituary: Michiel Jonker (1947 – March 22, 2014)
It was while he was still studying art history at the University of Amsterdam (1966-1982) under Josua Bruyn and Kees Peeters that Michiel embarked on his curatorial career in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum in December 1971. He was the youngest member of the team that created the new presentation of the museum in the old Civic Orphanage complex in Kalverstraat. After the official opening in 1975 he held several different positions in the museum, which was renamed the Amsterdam Museum in 2012. In July 1995 he moved from Amsterdam to become the Head of Collections at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. In 1999 he left that museum to become an independent scholar working on different projects for museums, in the fi eld of teaching, and as an art dealer, mainly of Old Master drawings.
In the Amsterdams Historisch Museum he became a successful museum man: a spider in the collegial web, a polymath and multitasker who brought numerous projects of very different nature to fruition, among them the editing of several publications, such as the series of catalogues of the museum’s collection of drawings (Fodor etc.), and the coordination of many exhibitions, including the groundbreaking Wereld binnen handbereik in 1992. He developed a broad knowledge of art-historical artifacts in the museum, to which he added a number of major acquisitions. He was a wonderful colleague for museum people and art historians in the Netherlands and abroad: well-informed and always ready to share his knowledge. Typically, in his later years as art dealer he seemed more interested in finding the right public collection for a work of art than in making a good deal.
Michiel’s untimely death came at the moment when the catalogue of the Dutch and Flemish collection in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, on which he had been working since 2007 with his wife Ellinoor Bergvelt, was largely finished. In December 2013, CODART organized a seminar at which both authors discussed the contents of their catalogue and a number of associated problems. Although unfortunately he could never see it finished, its forthcoming appearance in print will be a worthy tribute to the art historian and museum man Michiel Jonker.
Jan Piet Filedt Kok