Open Call Artist in Residency at the KB national library

A unique opportunity for artists to work in the heart of the KB, the national library of the Netherlands

What perspectives do artists and the national library have to offer each other when it comes to the stories that books of all ages tell us? Which voices are represented in this depot housing 125 kilometers of physical material managed by the KB and what audience do they speak to? How can we present physical collections in these times that technological developments are so radically transforming the way we use them? The KB and Stroom Den Haag are offering two artists the opportunity to reflect on these developments during a one-month pilot residency in 2021.
You can apply until Monday 19 April 2021.

Access to the collections
From medieval manuscripts to contemporary sources, the KB collects everything published in and about the Netherlands. Artists can find inspiration in the physical collections in which countless stories are told.

For the very first time, this artist-in-residency creates the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with these collections from an artist's point of view. The residency period in the KB focuses on the special and exceptional collections and on the depots where the book collections are kept. The repositories of the KB are a very special place to visit. Like a collective memory, where almost everything created by the human mind is stored, in the tangible, material form of typefaces, paper and sometimes beautiful volumes. This treasure trove is not accessible to the public and only to a very limited extent to the staff members of the KB. 

The residency
The aim of this residency is to use artistic imagination to reflect on digitization and technology, as a social development that is also clearly present within the library. During this one-month residency, artists can reflect from their own practice and own perspective on what digitization does to the experience of the printed word and the physical book.
The residency is aimed at artists who work and live in The Hague and are registered as artists with Stroom Den Haag. An art practice that deals with growing digitization and technology and with a specific part of the (special) collection of the KB has our interest. Nevertheless, we cordially invite all artists in The Hague who feel a connection to these collections to apply.

Conditions and expectations
The residencies will take place in 2021 and will have a duration of one month. In the KB Atelier there is space to work, this space is visible from the street. You will have access to the stockrooms, the physical heart of the library, under strict conditions and supervision.

The way in which you as an artist will give shape to your work during this residency - research, materials, questions and the use of the collection - is entirely open. A concrete end result is not expected. However, you will be asked to share your findings with both the library staff and the KB public in a form yet to be defined.

In addition, your presence and commitment to the residency in the KB are a prerequisite. By applying, you guarantee your availability to commit to the residency for four consecutive weeks in 2021, at least three full days per week, and to be present in the KB Atelier for that purpose.

Stroom acts as the mediator in this trajectory. If desired they can discuss the content with you. Stroom can also help you to develop a public translation of this residency. The fee for this one month residency is € 1.500,- excl. VAT.

NOTE: Because of COVID-19 measures, fewer people are allowed inside the KB building and these measures are strictly enforced. This may affect the dates of the residencies.

To apply
- You are a professional artist and you are registered at Stroom Den Haag.
- Artists with collective or duo practices are welcome to apply as such. Unfortunately, expansion of the fee is not possible.
- Knowledge and understanding of the Dutch language is a big plus, as the KB's collection is largely in Dutch.
- You can apply via this online form until 19 April 2021.
- Your availability and preference for the residency period can be specified in the form.
- The selection procedure will be conducted by the KB, who will be advised on specific aspects by Stroom Den Haag. In addition two artists will be put on a standby list.
- The selection process takes approximately 3-4 weeks. All applicants will receive notification of a possible follow-up after this time period.

For questions you can contact Ilga Minjon via or Angélique de Meijer via

Background information about the KB national library
The library world is undergoing a major transition under the influence of a changing society and ever-increasing digitization and technology. The KB, founded in 1798 as a small library for members of parliament, has a long tradition of collecting, storing and lending books, newspapers and magazines from and about the Netherlands. In the repositories you will find everything published in and about the Netherlands.

In addition, the KB owns unique and special collections including medieval and modern manuscripts, old prints and valuable works, pamphlets, book bindings, decorative and marble paper, chess and checkers literature, Dutch newspapers, cookery and children's books. All in all, this amounts to over seven million publications; approximately 125 km of physical library material.

The collection of publications on paper has now shifted to the collection and sharing of mainly digital publications of both Dutch, and non-Dutch open access monographs and journals in a Digital Warehouse. This includes archiving a selection of the Dutch web. The KB closely follows rapidly developing technologies (AI, Voice, IoT, robotization) and applies them wherever possible. The KB thus becomes a public hub of information networks. Data are published in an open and permanent manner so that they can be used in a meaningful context. Of course, cultural commons will be used as a pont of departure, because national heritage and its maintenance cannot be left (entirely) to the free market.

In addition to these digital developments, the KB faces another major challenge and renovation, namely: its relocation. Plans are being worked on to realise a new public and administrative building somewhere in the center of The Hague and an up-to-date, sustainable warehouse at a location outside the city in the coming years. Moving the collection (including the special and rare books) is no easy task. The goal is to keep the physical library materials as climate-neutral and safe as possible for the future and to manage them without an energy-consuming climate control system. Use of a fully automated system to store and request the books would mean that the warehouses would no longer be accessible to the public. The KB would be the first heritage institution in the Netherlands with such an innovative and sustainable warehouse.