FRANKFURT, GERMANY.-Max Hollein, director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt since autumn 2001, will become the new director of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut on 1 January 2006, succeeding Prof. Herbert Beck, who will be retiring at the end of April 2006, when he turns sixty-six. In a personal union, Max Hollein will direct the Städelmuseum, the Liebieghaus, and the Schirn Kunsthalle.
The choice of Max Hollein, and the associated joint leadership of the Städel and Schirn in the future, came after a thorough, international search and was made with the enthusiastic joint approval of the Städel administration and the City of Frankfurt. The mayor, Petra Roth, and the head of the cultural affairs department, Dr. Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff, agreed without hesitation and with utter conviction when I suggested him personally, explained Dr. Nikolaus Schweickart, chairman of the administration of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut. In Max Hollein, whose persuasive work at the Schirn over the years has earned him trust and recognition both nationally and internationally, we have found a successor for Herbert Beck who will do justice to the high expectations for the leadership of this important art institution. It represents not only a change of generations but also greater openness to the international museum world. His task will be to preserve the tradition of the institute and, benefiting from the synergies that will arise from the mutual enrichment of the Städel and Schirn, lead it successfully into the future, Schweickart emphasized.
The Städel, one of the most important and best known art museums in Germany, brings together 700 years of European art history in a unique collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. The interplay of the Städel and the Schirn, whose respective institutional and programmatic autonomy will be maintained, represents a bridge from the past through the present to the future. In partnership with the Städelschule and the Liebieghaus, which is integrated into the Städels collection, this institutional merger will bring up to date in all relevant areas the tasks of collecting, preserving, and communicating that fall to an art museum. The goal is to initiate productive mergers of the respective collections, of current scholarship and art theory, and of modern dissemination and artistic practices and to create a cultural organization of unique quality and forward-looking diversity.
This concept has found the full support of Mayor Petra Roth: The Städel has, as a result of its singular configuration as a community foundation, far greater potential thanks to its flexibility than a public museum. This potential should be exploited by this personal union of the Städel and the Schirn to produce an unparalleled alliance of cultural institutions that will continue to cultivate Frankfurts reputation as a discourse-oriented, progressive cultural metropolis and consolidate it nationally and internationally."
Dr. Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff, head of the cultural affairs department of the City of Frankfurt, also stands solidly behind both the concept and the individual: The Städel will soon be able to look back on two hundred years of history. It is an integral component of Frankfurts cultural identity, an open institution, rich in tradition and yet forward-looking. The choice of Max Hollein and this landmark personal union with the Schirn will open up new possibilities for this institution and its rich tradition, which in turn will once again focus public attention on Frankfurts strong position as a site of culture. This solution is, moreover, an outstanding example of a successful and functioning public-private partnership between the municipal art gallery of the citizens, which is structured as a private foundation, and the City of Frankfurt.
The Städel possess a high-quality collection that spans not only the ages but also artistic media, comprising 2,700 paintings, 600 sculptures, and 100,000 drawings and prints. This historic arc spans from Dürer, Holbein, and Cranach by way of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet, Van Gogh, and Cézanne to Matisse and Picasso, Bacon and Baselitz, Serra and Palermo. In order to expand the collection in the future, cooperation with international partner institutions and private collections will be expanded. One goal of this will to be to fill gaps in the collection of twentieth-century art in Frankfurt that have arisen between the Städels collection and that of the Museum moderner Kunst, which focuses on contemporary art. Moreover, as part of this cooperative partnership, outstanding works of contemporary artists commissioned by the Schirn will be transferred to the Städels collection with greater frequency.
The Schirn will continue to be run as an autonomous exhibition institution that has set itself the program of illuminating artistic oeuvres from a contemporary perspective and addressing highly charged themes. From time to time it will serve the Städel as a discursive platform on which new formulations of subject matter and new presentations can be presented. It will provide impetus for research projects for which the Städel, thanks to its scholarly expertise, can take responsibility. This personnel decision will have no effect on the Schirns structure as a municipal corporation that is open to private participation. Max Hollein remains director of the Schirn, Dr. Nordhoff emphasized. The Städel will continue to distinguish itself through its active and popular exhibition activities. In contrast to the Schirn, however, its exhibitions will have a clear focus on its own collection. In a time when art historical research and scholarly publication are done almost exclusively in the context of exhibitions, it is essential that exhibitions be established as long-term research projects with both a prehistory and an afterlife apart from their purely temporary presentation. The Schirn in turn will be able to fall back on the scholarly and curatorial know-how of the Städel and thereby expand the scope of its activity. The cross-fertilization of the Städel and the Schirn will take place on the level of subject matter and themes as well as on the organizational level. This will make it possible to take advantage of the effects of synergy in the areas of sponsoring, marketing, public relations, international cooperation, and the handling of loans.