Marion Ackermann Becomes the First Woman to Lead Berlin’s State Museums

Marion Ackermann Becomes the First Woman to Lead Berlin’s State Museums

Marion Ackermann has been appointed the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz or SPK), the organization that manages Berlin’s state museums. She is now the first woman to hold the executive position.

SPK is the largest cultural employer in Germany, with approximately 2,000 employees and 4.7 million objects across 15 museums in Berlin, as well as libraries, research institutes, and archive facilities. Current president Hermann Parzinger will retire at the end of next May after 17 years in the position.

Ackermann, who is currently director general of the Dresden State Museums, will be managing a “major overhaul” of the state-funded organization after a two-year, 278-page study published in 2020 said that the SPK was “too large to function effectively.”

She was unanimously chosen by a search committee that included Germany’s culture minister, Claudia Roth, and will officially start in the position on June 1 next year. She had also served on the foundation’s advisory board for several years.

In a press statement released by the organization, Roth called Ackermann “an excellent museum manager, art expert and strategist who is well connected both nationally and internationally.”

“One of the important factors in her appointment was her proven track record in successfully shaping transformation processes,” Roth said. “I am sure that she will bring the comprehensive reform of the SPK to an excellent conclusion and take the foundation into a sustainable and successful future with extraordinary expertise, new ideas and much energy.”

Ackermann’s previous work experience includes taking over the management of the Stuttgart Art Museum in 2003 at the age of 38, making her the youngest director of a major museum in the country at that time. In 2009, Ackermann became the director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. In 2016, she was appointed the general director of the Dresden State Museums. Dresden State Museums, whose 15 institutions receive more than 2 million visitors annually.

In addition to working as a curator and museum director, Ackermann was co-chair of the Bizot Group until 2023 and also served on the executive board of the Goethe Institute until earlier this year. Ackermann is also jury chairman of the Kaiserring Goslar art prize for international artists in modern and contemporary art.

The SPK was first established in 1957 to oversee the world-class art collections in West Berlin. After the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany fell in 1989, the organization’s focus has been combining the collections and overseeing major projects, such as the multi-decade renovation of the Pergamonmuseum.

The independent report released in 2020 prompted the directors of individual museums in Berlin to write an open letter criticizing the SPK for its bureaucracy, hierarchy, lack of funding, and ability to make decisions and as hindering their ability to give “a quick response to topical questions and desires of the public.” The report also identified several staffing shortages in multiple departments.

In April, the SPK announced that several of its museums would close on Mondays and Tuesdays to help save money in response to ongoing funding issues and growing operating expenses.

The post “Marion Ackermann Becomes the First Woman to Lead Berlin’s State Museums” by Karen K. Ho was published on 07/08/2024 by