Museums Talk: From Germany


Launched by Istanbul Modern, the "Museums Talk" program aims to establish a conversation platform between leading international museum professionals and museum audiences in Turkey, as well as online audiences globally. Following Museums Talk: From the USA in 2012-2014 and Museums Talk: From the UK in 2014-2015, the program focuses on Germany in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Istanbul.

"Museums Talk: From Germany" invites museum directors and curators in Germany to discuss the German models of art institutions: Germany’s unique contribution to the museology and art institutions with its various forms, including Kunsthalle and the Kunstverein as a democratic cultural self-representation. Each lecture contributes in rethinking and reconfiguring of spaces for art from a different perspective, and bringing the audiences from Turkey together with professionals from a closely knit and hitherto unexplored Germany. Key topics include the museum and its audiences, museum architecture and expansion projects, collecting and non-collecting institutions, curatorial practices and new modes of programming and museum management. 


Past Events

Museums and Their Audiences 

Tuesday, 7 November, 2017, 19.00

Inka Drögemüller

Deputy Director, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

Head of International Relations, Städel Museum

Two Frankfurt based art institutions, a time-honoured civic foundation on the one hand and a 30-year-old exhibition hall on the other, addressing a broad variety of audiences. Despite their differing institutional structure, the Städel Museum and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt are led by the same director and both enjoy high international recognition. At the Schirn, exhibitions are developed independent of a collection, allowing for greater openness and creativity in realizing an exhibition program. Contrary to this, the Städel Museum’s exhibitions are always derived from its distinguished collection, which offers a virtually complete survey of seven hundred years of European art. As art institutions are also subject to society’s upheavals, both Schirn and Städel do not only interact with different audiences, but also react to the fundamentally changing ways in dealing with information, education and culture. In her lecture, Inka Drögemüller will introduce the institutions’ different approaches of interaction with their broad audiences. Subject of the talk will be in situ experiences as well as the extension of museums into the digital realm.

After studying Social and Business Communication at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Inka Drögemüller worked as an art dealer and consultant in Berlin and New York. In 2001 she took over the development of the marketing and sponsoring departments at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Since 2006, Inka Drögemüller has also been responsible for international exhibition cooperations at the Städel Museum, the Schirn Kunsthalle and the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung. In 2016 Inka Drögemüller was appointed Deputy Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle. In addition, she coordinates numerous content cooperations with companies and research institutions within the context of Städel Museum’s digital extension, such as the Städel Digital Collection or the online course on modern art with the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

Click to watch the event. 


Is it Used Up and Beyond Its Time?

Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 19.00

Nicolaus Schafhausen

Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna


Permanent change is the defining element of our present times. Social and political crises are shaking up our liberal society, disclosing an uncertain everyday world. What role can art as well as institutions play in a society between erosion and transformation? Does art have to discuss current affairs or should it abolish non-artistic parameters? Is artistic autonomy per se a political act? Should art be entertainment too?

The institution can serve as a negotiation site for contemporary challenges and has a responsibility towards societal developments. Art can provide reflection on lived experience but requires a degree of deceleration in order to create a resonant space. Art can argue from a critical perspective, provide a certain distance or abstraction from reality to reveal larger systems at work, and patterns of social construction.

Artistic reflection demands time and critical distance in order to question constructions of reality or to offer new impulses. Institutions for contemporary art should constantly question the relevance of artistic positions today. In a torn society, culture can have a positive effect on community and identity.  

Nicolaus Schafhausen is the director of Kunsthalle Wien.( He served as artistic director of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, and as director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein. He was curator at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art in Helsinki (NIFCA) and the founding director of the European Kunsthalle. From 2006 to 2012, he was the director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Since 2011, he has held the position of strategic director at Fogo Island Arts - an initiative of the Canadian Shorefast Foundation. ( Nicolaus Schafhausen curated the German Pavilion for the 52nd and 53rd, as well as the Kosovo Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale. He was co-curator of the 6th Moscow Biennale in 2015.In addition to his experience as curator and director of well-known institutions, Nicolaus Schafhausen is author and editor of numerous publications on contemporary art. He is Visiting Lecturer at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Gent (HISK) and at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar (HBKsaar) in Saarbrücken.​


Decolonizing vs Diversity: a German Art Institution in Postcolonial Field

24 May 2017, Wednesday, 19.00

Dr. Ekaterina Degot

Academy of Arts of the World, Cologne

Artistic Director

Academy of Arts of the World’s (Akademie der Künste der Welt) mission is to challenge the monoethnic character of the German cultural landscape and to question cultural hegemonies all over the world. As an institution of discussion in the first place, Academy deals with the origins of the dominance and supports the postcolonial narrative in Germany where its colonial past and its implications in the present are not enough reflected. In that, it is one of the pioneering institutions in the country. Academy finds cultural exclusion that gives no voice to the Other unacceptable, but it also rejects exoticising, which imprisons Others in a collection of rigid "authentic" identities called "diversity". 

Ekaterina Degot is an art writer and curator, Artistic director at the Academy of Arts of the World, Cologne, and professor at the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography.  In 2014 she got Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory. Her resent curatorial projects include "What Did the Artist Mean by That?", Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2014 (with Yuri Albert), "Monday Begins on Saturday", First Bergen Assembly, Bergen, Norway, 2013 (with David Riff). She co-edited Post-Post-Soviet?: Art, Politics and Society in Russia at the Turn of the Decade (Chicago University Press, 2013).

Click to watch the event. 


On "Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" Exhibition

Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 19.00

Okwui Enwezor

Haus der Kunst, Munich


In this event, Okwui Enwezor talks about "Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965" show at Haus der Kunst, Munich, which also exhibits Fahrelnissa Zeid’s "My Hell" from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection.

In 2015 Enwezor was Director of the Visual Arts in the 56th Biennale of Venice. He served as Artistic Director of several international exhibitions, including La Triennale 2012, Paris; 7th Gwangju Biennale; 2nd Seville Biennial; Documenta 11, Kassel; and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial, among others. He is the former Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President of the San Francisco Art Institute, and his academic positions include Visiting Professor at Columbia University, New York; the University of Pittsburgh; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Enwezor was Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; and in 2013 Global Distinguished Professor at the Department of Art History at New York University.

Click to watch the event. 


Exhibition Making

Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 19.00

Susanne Pfeffer

Fridericianum, Kassel 

Artistic Director 

In this event, Susanne Pfeffer talks about "exhibition making". Pfeffer is the artistic director of the art institution Fridericianum, which hosts Documenta, one of the most prominent modern and contemporary art exhibitions in the world. 

The event is free of charge and will be held in English. Simultaneous translation will be provided. 


Museums: Mediators or Producers of Culture?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 19.00

Ellen Blumenstein

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Chief Curator

Collecting, preserving and presenting cultural-historical artifacts (be it artworks or other kinds of objects) have always been at the core of any museum’s self-conception. How the results of this understanding translate into the exhibition space, though, depends not only on a period’s taste of what should be collected, but also on the conventions of presentation, i.e. how exhibits are showcased, and to what end.


Today, we (i.e. the museums and their staff) are confronted with a contradictory demand: on the one hand, museums are considered places of cultural education, but on the other hand art works (distinct from all other collectable objects) are assumed to reveal their contents quasi-miraculously on their own (but only to the connoisseur).


Most often, this conundrum is tackled by interposing the education department between the work and the viewer; this way, art can maintain its revelatory character, while the reached audience may be expanded beyond the professional audience– because the mediators decipher the work to the "ignorant". As a consequence, today’s exhibitions are likely to pose works as unrelated to each other as possible – with the ideal being the opportunity to place only one work in each space at a time…


But if the idea of the museum (and of art) as a socially powerful medium is to be taken seriously, art and the viewer have to be interlinked directly – and accordingly, the way art exhibitions are conceived has to change drastically.

This lecture shifts attention from the singular object to the argumentative frameworks that exhibitions inevitably create – and demonstrates that the act of exhibiting not only mediates existing items of culture, but also continues to constantly produce new meanings.

Click to watch the event. 

Museums Talk: From Germany

The Museum in the 21st Century?

Friday, April 22, 2016, 19.00



Ludwig Museum, Cologne

In his lecture, Dr. Yilmaz Dziewior discusses, through "institutional critique" and "the interdisciplinary relationship between the local and the global", his curatorial practice at the Museum Ludwig, which opened in 1976 and houses some of Germany’s most prominent collections. 

For Dr. Dziewior a starting point could be two questions: "What will the museums in the future look like? What could be a possible scenario for the museums in the future?" Dr.Dziewior foresees two possible scenarios: 1) Dystopian, pessimistic. The museums will be defined more by their architectural shell than by the collections and activities they contain. This development began with Guggenheim Bilbao, and will reach its apogee with the "starchitect" museums of Abu Dhabi. There will also no longer be a need to distinguish between private and public funding, as all institutions will depend entirely on patrons and corporate sponsorship. As a result, museums will only host blockbuster shows designed to maximize visitor numbers. 2) Utopian, optimistic. The museums will be able to focus wholly on preservation, research and communication, because the public will have recognized the importance of the institution in engendering a functioning, civilized society. Quality will take precedence over quantity. The items on display will no longer be viewed as objects divorced from the social context from which they emerged. In addition, the western-oriented canon of modern art will have been extended, incorporating art from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as work by artists from other regions that are currently still marginalized. With free entry to all museums, and increased efforts on the part of institutions to communicate their content democratically, art and culture will no longer be the exclusive preserve of the middle and upper classes.


Click to watch the event. 


Photo Credit: Steffen Jagenburg & Stephan Wyckoff

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