Het Nieuwe Instituut collects archives related to Dutch architecture and urban planning from 1850 to the present day. The collection includes the archives of individual architects and urban planners, usually acquired from their estates, but also archives of educational institutions, research agencies, institutions, designers working in other design fields and critics. Archives covering the period from 1960 to the present day are governed by the policy document Making Choices. It marks the transition from a predominantly monographic acquisitions policy to a more thematic approach that places greater emphasis on the social context of architecture and the most important spatial developments over the past seventy years.
Het Nieuwe Instituut manages the archive on behalf of the State, but determines its own acquisitions policy. The general focus for acquisitions is on the cultural and creative dimensions of architecture and urban planning. The collection includes not only drawings and models for completed designs but also other materials, such as study materials, sketch designs, correspondence, office administration etc., that contain information about the design process and the context within which the design was created.
Het Nieuwe Instituut’s acquisitions policy is laid out in several (internal) policy documents. In addition to general selection criteria, such as national importance, the quality of the work and its innovative character, for archives produced in the period since 1945, Het Nieuwe Instituut exercises a more selective policy, in part due to the ever-greater number of archives offered to the institution and their increasing size.
Archives from the period of post-war reconstruction (1940-1960) are governed by the (internal) policy document Op de Achterstand Vooruit. The document is based on research into the most important developments in this period and into the architects and urban planners who played a significant role within these developments. The document contains a priority list of architects and urban planners whose archives are actively being acquired and who have been given priority.
Archives produced in the period since 1960 are governed by the policy document, Making Choices (2012). Under the motto ‘From Who to What’, for archives from this period the institute has made a transition from a predominantly monographic acquisitions policy based on individual architects to a more thematic approach that places greater emphasis on the social context of architecture and the most important spatial developments over the past seventy years. Among the factors that precipitated this change was the question to what extent the architect remains the sole representative of the ‘creative dimension’ in architecture. Since the second half of the twentieth century, there have been enormous changes in the architectural profession, and today many more parties are involved in the design of the built environment. Making Choices broadens the perspective of architecture by seeing not only architects as the starting point for thinking about the profession but also the site, the context, social developments, and other parties such as clients, institutions and critics.
The acquisitions policy is regularly revised. The institute is currently reviewing the policy document Making Choices with the involvement of internal and external researchers. The aim is to create closer links between the collections, Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Research & Development department and the Jaap Bakema Study Centre (in partnership with Delft University of Technology and other universities) in order to strengthen the connections between research, acquisitions and presentations.