I care! Charity down the ages – Exhibition and website

Charity is in the news at the moment. Our welfare state is changing. How are we reacting to that?The aim of the ‘I care’ exhibition is to encourage visitors to think about their relationship with others and inspire them to become actively or more actively involved in society as a whole.
In addition to the exhibition there is a website with stories, meetings, an inspiration house and other activities.

Care for one’s neighbour down the ages

The exhibition uses superb works of art and fascinating everyday objects to show how the Dutch have taken care of others for centuries now. The visitor will be told about the history of care for the poor, the sick, children, the elderly and the dead. A key role has been reserved for the stories of historical benefactors, carers and the needy, which will breathe new life into the objects and the stories behind them, some of which are centuries old.

Moving stories

Personal stories play an important part in this project. Stories like Ineke’s. In 2013 she decided to resign as director of Passage, a Christian women’s movement. The care for her husband Willem made so many demands on her that she was wondering whether she could carry on. She wrestled with her decision for a long time. Her job not only gave her satisfaction but also financial independence. Yet she decided to follow her heart instead of her head. Ineke’s story is one of those moving accounts that makes people start thinking about their own place in society. Nowadays there are hundreds of thousands of people in the Netherlands who care for others. Who are these volunteers, carers and buddies, and what motivates them? These searching and heartwarming stories can be read on the www.catharijneverhalen.nl website.

Barmhartige Samaritaan, Nicolaas Roosendael, 1665, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem Inspiration house

Visitors to the exhibition can also speak to experience experts, who make a valuable contribution to the concept of ‘respect for  the other’. Anyone who wants to help others after a visit to the exhibition can go to the Inspiration House in the museum courtyard, where social organisations like the Oranje Fonds, Movisie, Cordaid, Tussenvoorziening and the Red Cross will be showcasing examples of the projects run by their volunteer workers. The Oranje Fonds is the museum’s chief partner in the presentation. The modern variant of love of one’s neighbour is its core mission. It supports hundreds of initiatives each year in which volunteers look after the vulnerable. They find new places for them in society, and create links to valuable futures.

Exhibition ‘I care! Charity down the ages’. Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht (the Netherlands), 12 september 2014 – 01 march 2015. 

About the author: Marieke Potma

Marieke Potma

Marieke Potma (1965) studies Ethics of Care and Policy (MA) at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht and works as a volunteer in palliative care. Her care ethical attention is focused on ‘Ethique du care’ and figures of vulnerability. She formerly worked as a senior member of staff and as students counsellor in Conservation and Restoration of Art in Amsterdam and studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam (BA on Bergson). She is philosophical consultant and organizes workshops in philosophy in the Netherlands and France.