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Blog with Peter Craven

Marion Ackermann, art ambassador

Museum, not temple

Marion Ackermann 1It’s an incredible skill set that is required. Budget and finance. Purchasing. Personnel management. Lobbying and politicking. Not to mention the art. That’s just some of what you have to bring to the table if you’re going to run one of Germany’s top modern art collections. And she does: Marion Ackermann, my latest guest on Talking Germany, is the head of Art Collection North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf.

Marion Ackermann 2So I think I expected her to be high-powered, thick-skinned and very professional. Well, she’s certainly very professional: a great ambassador for art, and for her museum. Otherwise: very talkative, passionate, committed and likeable. I knew all this before we’d exchanged more than two sentences: such warm and encouraging eye contact in the mirror of our make-up suite. And even while Marion Ackermann was having her hair done and make-up applied, she was tossing out all the latest developments in the art world.

Marion Ackermann 3 “Green museums,” she tells me, are the next big thing: “Reducing the museum’s carbon footprint. And that includes cutting down on the exorbitant transport and insurance costs involved in works going out on loan.” Then: “Weltkunst! Getting away from the US- and Eurocentric art world!” And: “Going digital – putting everything on the net. It’s the democratic future of the museum.” One more thing: “We’ve discovered that what people want to see in their art museums isn’t just art. They also want artists. And we’re trying to respond to that. We don’t any longer do l’art pour l’art. Everything we do is about society. Our museum is not a temple.”

Marion Ackermann 4 But, I wonder, what about purchasing art these days? Surely the ultra-rich have taken over the market and old-fashioned art museums can no longer compete? Her answer is simple: “Women!” Women? “That’s right,” she says, “there are still a lot of women who have not quite been discovered. And it’s interesting,” she adds, “that – for reasons that are pretty obvious – they tend to have small oeuvres. But they’ve often been neglected so it’s still possible to find a lot of work that’s worth collecting.” And that was the world (of art) according to Marion Ackermann!


December 9, 2013