The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the German state body that oversees 15 collections including some of the most famous museums in the world, such as the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Pergamon Museum, and the Neue Nationalgalerie, will be dissolved by the government.
The decision, announced on July 13, came after the end of a two-year study from the foundation concluded that it was too large to function effectively. The study, released as a 278-page report, recommends that several smaller autonomous foundations be organized after their dissolution.
The German minister of culture, Monika Grütters, and the president of the foundation, Herman Parzinger, both announced their support for the decision.
Currently funded by the federal government and 16 German states, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation is one of the largest cultural organizations in Europe. In 2019, it will operate with a budget of around € 356 million ($ 405 million), and currently employs around 2,000 people. The collection he held watched 4.7 million works of art and objects.
The 60-year-old foundation suffers from “structural overload,” said Marina Münkler, a scholar and leading member of the research team. The report’s authors say the organization’s top-down structure has resulted in unclear decision-making processes.
Several foundations museums – including the Pergamon Museum, Neue Nationalgalerie, and the The Humboldt Forum that was constantly being bullied—has been a construction site for years. Meanwhile, the owner of the building that houses the Hamburger Bahnhof moved to turning a site into a private office space.
The report recommends that the Berlin state museums and the Ibero-American Institute sever their own relations. It also shows that the state library, which holds centuries-old documents and items related to the former German Empire, was organized into separate groups.
The purpose of the change is to make museums and libraries function more efficiently, and also to bring Germany in harmony with the times, especially those related to debates surrounding colonial heritage and digitalization.
“The museums within the Prussian Cultural Foundation are only partially able to meet the demand for international appeal and impact,” the report said.
Parzinger, who will retire in five years, called the recommendations for reform “a great opportunity” for each institution to have “greater autonomy.”
But Grütters acknowledged that implementing the desired changes would take time, noting: “This is not a fast run, but a marathon.”
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