Ann Demeester started out her career as arts and culture editor at Belgian newspapers De Morgen and De Tijd, after which she was taken under the aegis of renowned curator and critic Jan Hoet. Eventually she relocated to the Netherlands, where she successfully ran the exhibition space W139 in Amsterdam (2002-2006). In 2006 she was named the new director of De Appel, which, during her seven years of directorship, grew with high velocity.

Led by Demeester, De Appel ambitiously increased their focus on collaborations, public visibility and reaching a broad national and international range. In the furtherance of Wies Smals’ interests, Demeester also paid special attention to performance art and the manner in which it can be archived and preserved. In doing this, Demeester realised, among others, projects such as That was then, this is now.An additional focal point was the professionalisation of the Curatorial Programme. Demeester brought De Appel to undergo a vast theoretical discourse, which produced an increase of journals, books and theoretical publications. During these years De Appel realised an impressive string of ambitious and innovative projects, publishing among others the F.R. David series, The Shadowfiles, and the various publications about curatorship in collaboration with Paul O’Neill.Demeester argued that partnerships and collaborations were of essential value for the De Appel, which brought her to establish contact with the Lutheran church, the Frascati Theater and the University of Amsterdam. This resulted in various projects, such as the extensive lecture series Right About Now, The Old Brand New and Facing Forward. However, the most important mission Demeester has initiated was the search for a new abode, a home for De Appel.

In 2012, under the care of Demeester, De Appel withdrew from the building on the Spiegelgracht and entered its new location: an imposing building on the Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam, decked with marble floors and tall, white walls. This space gave house to an ambitious and internationally-oriented programme. The initiation of the building was carried out with the group exhibition Topsy Turvy, which was followed by several solo-exhibitions of artists such as Sven Augustijnen, Dirk Braeckman and Zarina Bhimji. Demeester’s directorship coincided with another important period within recent Dutch art and culture history, namely that of the severe subsidy cuts. The cutbacks on the art and culture budgets that were announced in 2012 struck a large amount of small(er) organisations and companies. This brought along a coarsening of the political and public debate revolving around the ‘social value of art’, which lead to a flood of protests and resistance.

De Appel, and notably Demeester personally, took on an important role as a representative and public defender of the visual arts. During this time of Demeester’s leadership a double-edge battle had to be fought: for the importance of the visual arts on one hand, and for the retainment of a programme without any compromises or sacrifices on the other. As she had resiliently shown so far during her directorship, Demeester continued to remain committed to the artists. Thus, in 2014 De Appel said farewell to Ann Demeester with her final exhibitions ASCO No moving and Nina Yuen.