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Museums seek strategies against political influence

The "Museum" lettering on a building / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa/Symbolic image
The "Museum" lettering on a building / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa/Symbolic image

Chemnitz will not only be the European Capital of Culture in 2025, but also a Mecca for German museums. They then want to adjust their role in the face of new social challenges.

Museums in Germany are concerned about the social climate and want to develop strategies against political influence on their work. Current events at home and abroad are putting democratic society to the test, said the President of the German Museums Association, Wiebke Ahrndt, in Chemnitz on Thursday. "War, a strengthening right-wing, anti-Semitism, anti-democracy and a fundamental polarization in society, which we are currently experiencing, are also challenges for us in the museums."

Many of the museums are publicly owned and receive political directives. Although there is freedom of art, there is no freedom of museums, said Ahrndt. "Questions of political stance and political influence interfere with the day-to-day work of museums and require effective strategies."

The museums want to discuss this at their annual conference in Chemnitz in 2025. This is the largest museum conference in Germany with almost 1,000 participants, emphasized the association president. It will be held under the title "Museums as creators of democracy". Museums as places of education play an important role in society, said Ahrndt, who heads the Übersee-Museum Bremen. "They convey complex content, contextualize current events, deal academically with polarizing topics and create space for discourse. As agents of political education, museums are places of democracy."

Chemnitz and Nova Gorica in Slovenia will hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2025. The Chemnitz motto "C the Unseen" fits perfectly with museums, stated Sabine Wolfram, Chairwoman of the Saxon Museum Association and Director of the Chemnitz State Museum of Archaeology. This is because much of her work and her depots tend to be hidden from view.

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