Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Exhibit

Feb 18, 2020 | Blog, Museum

In 2015, The SSU team began to research a 17th-century trunk of letters that raises exciting questions. Why were these letters never delivered? Who sent them and what are they about? Discover the secrets and material features of these letters…

On Sunday 16 February 2020 the SSU team launched the Signed, Sealed and Undelivered exhibition. I had the pleasure of curating this digital exhibit. Naturally it comes with various benefits and drawbacks. The main drawback being not showing the actual objects, the physical letters and associated materials.

But a digital exhibit has many benefits, too. You don’t need to hassle about climatological conditions for the objects, for a start. The ink on 300-year-old letters is fragile. Exposing them to too much light may cause the ink to fade. Online, the letters can remain safe and sound in the dark vaults, far away from photons and illuminance, at a stable temperature and humidity.

Furthermore, loans are way easier to get. I wanted to bring the stories in the letters alive by combining them with 17th-century paintings. But there’s not need to even try to get a Jan Vermeer from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The very first object in the exhibit would never make it to any location, even if the director of Museum Boymans Van Beuningen wanted to. The staircase once belonging the Postmaster and Postmistress Simon de Brienne and Marie Germain is incorporated in the museum building and can hence never leave. Digitally, however, it can go anywhere.

Thanks to the SSU-team and all museums and heritage institutions contributing to the exhibit.