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Minister of State for Culture Roth on the Fotoinstitut: Literature Archive in Marbach as a possible model


Henning Kaiser / dpa

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) presented the founding commission for the German Photo Institute in Düsseldorf. The seven-member committee is to present a content concept for the planned institute, as it was said on Monday. Its members are:

  • Susanne Gaensheimer (Director Kunstsammlung NRW)

  • Peter Gorschlüter (Director of the Folkwang Museum Essen)

  • Felix Krämer (General Director Kunstpalast Düsseldorf)

  • Katrin Pietsch (Conservator, University of Amsterdam),

  • Christian Scheidemann (conservator, New York),

  • Inka Schube (Curator, Sprengel Museum Hannover)

  • Moritz Wegwerth (photographer, Düsseldorf).

So far, the tug-of-war over the location for the National Institute of Photography has made headlines. The respective proponents of the cities of Essen and Düsseldorf as locations had engaged in a years-long, increasingly bitter debate.

In November 2022, the Budget Committee of the Bundestag made the decision to locate the Fotoinstitut in Düsseldorf. Previously, feasibility studies had considered Essen to be the more suitable location. In an expert opinion, the constitutional law expert Helmut Siekmann regarded the award to Düsseldorf as a "violation of the prohibition of arbitrariness".

"The location debate has caused a split that is completely insane," said Minister of State for Culture Roth on Monday. Commenting on the timetable, NRW Culture Minister Ina Brandes (CDU) said that the German Photo Institute could start its work before a new building was ready.

The requirements for a new building are to be defined from the committee's content concept, which will then also be followed by the choice of location within Düsseldorf, Brandes said. "We have a responsibility to preserve images. When images disappear, a piece of collective memory disappears," warned Peter Gorschlüter.

Conservator Christian Scheidemann said that the conservation of photographic art was close to his heart. Their sensitivity is a dilemma. "The new prints look very good, but the earliest works by Gursky, for example, are a bit yellowed, you can admit that."

Roth and Brandes said that the Fotoinstitut should not become a photo museum, but this does not preclude exhibitions and presentations. Roth cited the Literature Archive in Marbach as a possible model. The Deutsches Fotoinstitut will collect the estates of photographers, promote research on restoration and conservation, and organize exhibitions, publications and events.