Kunstinstituut Melly is a contemporary art gallery located in a former school building on Witte de Withstraat, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It was founded in 1990 and originally named after the street it was located on. It presents curated exhibitions, symposiums, live events, educational programs, and has a separate art literature publishing arm.
|Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art|
|Location||50 Witte de Withstraat, 3012 BR |
Rotterdam the Netherlands
|Type||Contemporary art gallery|
|Director||Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy|
In 2017, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, as it was known, announced it would change its name in order to distance itself from its de facto namesake, the Dutch naval admiral Witte de With, and recognise the negative impacts of colonialism. Its new name, Kunstinstituut Melly, was announced in 2020, and references a sculpture by Canadian artist Ken Lum displayed on the exterior wall of the building entitled Melly Shum Hates Her Job (1989).
The gallery was formerly known as the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and was established in 1990 as a center for contemporary art with a mission of curating and exhibiting international art exhibitions. It is based in a former school building, which it shares with the TENT gallery.
Chris Dercon was the first director from 1990 to 1996. He was followed by Bartomeu Marí (1996–2001), Catherine David (2002–2004), Hans Maarten van den Brink (2004–2006) and Nicolaus Schafhausen (2006–2011). Defne Ayas was appointed director in 2012, and was succeeded by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy in 2018.
On 17 September 2017, the center announced it would be changing its title because it was named after Witte de With, a Dutch naval officer who had worked for both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company and therefore was associated with colonialism. Then director Defne Ayas commented "We were named after our location in 1990, the street in which we are situated is named after. Naming art institutions after locations in a bid to affirm neutrality was a trend in those days". The problem with the name was highlighted by critic Egbert Alejandro Martina during preparatory meetings for the exhibition Cinema Olanda: Platform, which ran alongside the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale. An open letter from Martina and others then stated that "Witte de With has 'failed' to come to terms with its own internal contradictions, and has yet to reckon with the historical figure it symbolically embodies".
In response, the center titled its next exhibition Witte de With; What’s in a name?. The ongoing debate became a national controversy. By January 2020, questions were being asked in the mainstream media about why the center had not changed its name. In June 2020, as part of the George Floyd protests in the Netherlands, activists vandalized symbols of colonialism in Rotterdam. These included the Piet Hein statue in Delfshaven, the Pim Fortuyn memorial and the Witte de With Center, where they left handprints in red paint. In response, the center immediately took down its name board from the building and director Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy announced that there would be a consultation period and then a new name would be announced on January 27 2021. The centre produced a timeline to record the process.
In 2009 a year-long program at Witte de With was structured as a series of group shows, presentations, performances, screenings and debates  including participations by Dineo Seshee Bopape, D.O.R., Simon Denny, Yngve Holen, Mark Leckey, Patrizio di Massimo, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, and Jeremy Shaw.
- Lorente, J. Pedro (2011). The Museums of Contemporary Art: Notion and Development. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 7. ISBN 9781409405863.
- "Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy". Archived from the original on 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
- "Kunstinstelling Witte de With in Rotterdam heet voortaan Melly". nos.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- "New name, new identity: An interview with Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, the director of Kunstinstituut Melly". Art Index Rotterdam. 2021-01-27. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
- "Who Is Melly Shum? On FKA Witte de With's Name Change". Ocula. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
- "Verslag van de directeur en de raad van toezicht 30 september 2020". Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- "Noem ons voortaan Kunstinstituut Melly". Kunstinstituut Melly. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- "Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art". Rotterdam: Rotterdam Tourist Information. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- "About us". Archived from the original on 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
- "Witte de With art museum decolonizes name". Archived from the original on 2020-07-22. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "About". WdW Name Change. Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
- "Open letter to Witte de With". Archived from the original on 2020-07-05. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "De aangekondigde dood van Witte de With [Death of Witte de With announced]". Archived from the original on 2020-07-22. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "The protracted renaming of Witte de With and the capability of doing better". Archived from the original on 2020-08-07. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "ANTI-RACISM GRAFFITI ON ROTTERDAM STATUES, ART CENTER". Archived from the original on 2020-09-05. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "ROTTERDAM MUSEUM DROPS NAME LINKED TO 17TH CENTURY NAVAL OFFICER". Archived from the original on 2020-09-05. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "Timeline". WdW Name Change. 19 June 2020. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
- "Who Is Melly Shum? On FKA Witte de With's Name Change". ocula.com. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
- "Morality". Archived from the original on 2018-04-28. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
- "Act IX". Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
- "Douglas Coupland, Raimundas Malašauskas and "Art in the Age of… Asymmetrical Warfare?" at Witte de With, Rotterdam". Archived from the original on 2018-09-22. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
- "Firelei Báez at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam". Art News. 7 February 2019. Archived from the original on 2020-09-05. Retrieved 2020-09-02.