A new Director in a museum can be unnoticed, can be an entire change, or can be refreshing while keeping the museum’s touch. It is still to see what happens at the Hamburger Kunsthalle but, as a start, Mr. Christoph Martin Vogtherr has attracted lot of attention to this emblematic institution, attraction I hope continues. Groundless, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is not as renowned as it deserves and should have more international recognition both for its valuable collection and for the singular projects the team develops.
For this exhibition, the museum invited 12 people to think and work with the Director (13 in total) around 5 themes and, as a result, observe and choose the artworks of the collection that each could relate to their personal impressions after participating on the workshops. The condition: the 12 must be living now in Hamburg but coming, originally, from abroad. Six workshops where held around personal questions and impressions of the city, of life, of the present, starting with the question what is important to me? From here on, thinking about Freedom, Dialog, Fellowship, Empowerment and Respect.
As the participants had no previous knowledge about the Kunsthalle’s collection and were inspired by their reflections and conversations around the 5 themes, they saw the artworks of the Kunsthalle with an absolute new point of view. As a result, the pieces are exposed and grouped in an entirely unusual format. Art historians would never mix paintings in this way or criteria, but the new, external point of view really works. It works because there actually is a common thread behind them. It works because you read the participants’ thoughts written on the floor and start, unconsciously, pondering on the subjects and observing the artworks under the light of your personal thoughts. You become a part of it. The aim of the whole project is reached: you are also participating, there is real interaction between museum and people.
Maybe because Mr. Vogtherr was foreigner himself while living in London; maybe because Hamburg has recently received hundreds of refugees; or maybe because Hamburg has a long history of immigration and the port-city has evolved itself as a mixture of people. Whatever reason, such a project and exhibition makes a lot of sense in Hamburg. It is totally coherent with the openness that is part of the city’s character. Almost as if it was the obvious way of such an emblematic institution to interact with its city. This project is the kind of examples that make Hamburg the unique city it is.
The exhibition Open Access. 13 Views into the Collection is an experiment to explore new roles for a museum as a participant in the public space. Public space understood both as a city that is alive and its citizens’ life, which is particularly interesting in this case, as the Hamburger Kunsthalle plays a significant role in Hamburg since the late 19th century. The exposition aims, somehow, to be a statement of principles of openness and interaction with the (expanded) community, instead of aspiring to be an artistic milestone.
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Glockengießerwall 5, 20095 Hamburg http://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/en/exhibitions/open-access-0