In the Latest Sign of Trouble for Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the Museum Is Considering Laying Off Two-Thirds of Its Staff

The layoffs could come as the museum plans a partial closure during its David Chipperfield-designed renovation.

The Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Troubles continue to plague Germany’s beleaguered Haus der Kunst.

The financially strapped Munich museum could lay off 48 staff members, or about two-thirds of its part-time workers, mainly in the front-of-house. Many of these employees—among whom are cashiers and security guards—have worked at the Haus der Kunst for 15 to 20 years.

The museum’s commercial director, Bernhard Spies, who has been tasked with getting the gallery’s finances back on track, told Süddeutsche Zeitung that “the economic situation has improved, but is still not relaxed” since he came on board in March 2018.

The institution claims the potential layoffs could be due to redundancies as a result of its upcoming partial closure as part of a renovation project led by British star architect David Chipperfield, set to begin in 2020. Previously, the gallery was considering a complete closure, which would have seen 75 employees lose their jobs. Under the current plan, the affected posts may be outsourced to external companies.

In 2018, the museum blamed financial mismanagement for the cancellation of two planned exhibitions for American artists Joan Jonas and Adrian Piper. That same year, longtime director and curator Okwui Enwezor stepped down from the museum with three years left on his contract, citing health concerns.

Enwezor’s seven-year tenure had been marred by instability, with investigations into the influence of scientologists on the museum and sexual harassment accusations against the head of the security staff. (A Scientologist employee who was fired in 2017 successfully sued the museum for religious discrimination and was awarded a $123,000 severance package and a full pension by Munich’s labor court earlier this year.) Enwezor died in March, and his successor has yet to be named.

In January, the Haus der Kunst announced that Bice Curiger, the artistic director of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, would lead an expert commission to oversee the museum’s programming and strategy over the next two years. The commission also includes Achim Hochdörfer, the director of the Brandhorst Museum in Munich, and collector and curator Ingvild Goetz.


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