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22 Nov 2017

Germany plans to boost its cultural presence abroad through art exhibitions

As reported in The Art NewspaperGermany intends to develop a programme of mega-exhibitions to boost its cultural presence abroad. The German Foreign Office is planning an initiative to co-ordinate major international exhibitions of art drawn from the country’s museums.

It is part of a drive led by Andreas Görgen, the foreign office’s head of culture and communication, to boost Germany’s cultural presence in the world and to foster greater exchange with institutions and curators abroad. Görgen says his vision for a “post-national culture policy” extends beyond such international strategies as the Louvre and Guggenheim outposts or the British Museum’s partnerships.

“The museums in Germany are still at the very beginning,” Görgen tells The Art Newspaper. “The marvellous Martin Roth once gave a kick-start during his time in Dresden. It is about time to carry his initiative forward.” Roth, the former director of the Dresden State Art Collections and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, died in August. He first launched a plan for closer co-operation on international projects in 2007, and had support from the foreign office, Görgen says. But the idea was set aside for many years.

For Görgen, a global approach to cultural policy has two aims: to promote German culture abroad and to give foreign museums access to the collections and scholarship of German institutions. “We should be willing to free things from the context of our collections and to let other curators look at them and deal with them in their own context, which might give a completely different interpretation,” he says. He is also interested in the potential of digitisation, and how virtual reality can allow objects to be shown without travelling.

In a global political landscape of growing nationalism and authoritarianism, it is important to the foreign office to facilitate “access to culture and education in a world in which space for culture and education is being increasingly limited in many places and by many means”, Görgen says. “We are therefore aware that we are championing something many see as a threat. We are championing the dissolution of the usual borders.”

German museums have already presented several major exhibitions abroad, including Deutschland 8: German Art in China, a contemporary show across eight venues in Beijing, which closed last month. But museums often “have to spend more time acquiring funding than on curatorial issues” to stage such events, Görgen says. The foreign office’s proposed agency would ease access to funding, export permits and visas.

Read full article in The Art Newspaper

Image: Works by Georg Baselitz travelled to Taimiao temple in Beijing for the Deutschland 8: German Art in China shows © Daniel Biskup