The Hermitage Amsterdam Has Settled With a Belgian Magazine That Claimed the Museum Stole Its Brand Identity

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In June, the Netherlands’ Hermitage Amsterdam revealed plans to rebrand itself as the H’ART Museum in an effort to sever ties with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the news was not welcomed by all. HART a Belgium-based art magazine, claimed that the institution stole its brand identity and threatened legal action.   

Now, it appears both parties have had a—ahem—change of heart: In a joint statement, the museum and magazine announced that they have settled the dispute. 

As part of the agreement, the Hermitage Amsterdam will keep its newly adopted name and design. HART, meanwhile, will change its title to “maintain its editorial independence.”

“In the last few days, we have been able to come to clear and effective agreements with the museum that guarantee the independence of both parties,” explained Kathleen Weyts, HART’s editor-in-chief. “I’m glad that we were able to avoid a summary procedure and that we can now restore the positive focus on the publication of our magazine’s first international issue.” 

The publication’s new name is expected to be shared during Brussels Gallery Weekend on 7 September 2023, the statement said. 

Whether the Hermitage Amsterdam paid to settle the pending legal dispute with the magazine is unclear. “No further announcements will be made about the details of the agreement,” a spokesperson for the museum said. 

“I’m pleased that, after careful deliberation, we have reached an agreement that will allow both parties to focus on their respective futures,” added Annabelle Birnie, director of the Hermitage Amsterdam. “We wish the art magazine a successful international launch. Our summer will be marked by the gradual transition from Hermitage to H’ART Museum.” 

The Hermitage Amsterdam was founded in 2009 as an independent non-profit with “unlimited rights” to borrow works from the historic Hermitage Museum. But in March of 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Dutch venue vowed to dissociate itself from its parent museum.  

In addition to the rebrand, the Hermitage Amsterdam plans to partner with a slate of new international institutions—the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The Hermitage Amsterdam’s updated identity will go into effect across its physical and digital materials starting September 1. 

“We are building on our experience in the international field and are now spreading our wings,” Birnie, said upon announcing the new name in June. “Our programming will be multi-voiced, reflecting the times we live in. We will show major art exhibitions as well as intimate presentations.” 

 

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