Munich’s Haus der Kunst Cancels Its Planned Joan Jonas Show Because It Can’t Afford to Mount It

The historic institution has been plagued by budgetary issues for years.

The Haus der Kunst, Munich. Photo by Chris 73 (cropped), Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license.

Munich’s Haus der Kunst has been forced to scrap a forthcoming exhibition of pioneering video and performance artist Joan Jonas citing a budget shortfall. The show, which is currently on view at the Tate Modern in London, was scheduled to travel to Munich in November.

The historic museum, which doesn’t have a permanent collection and relies on special and traveling exhibitions like the Jonas show, blamed the institution’s previous administration for the shortfall. In a statement, it said the cancellation was due to “a difficult financial situation stemming from management errors in the past.”  The museum claimed it exhausted every avenue to secure enough last-minute funding to stage the show but ultimately fell short of its goal.

Interim CEO Bernhard Spies, who took over when former director Okwui Enwezor resigned over health issues in June, said the extent of the financial problems remain unclear because past expenditures had not been fully accounted for, according to the Art Newspaper. He said he was still working on introducing a proper budgeting system.

Speaking to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last month, Spies said the museum faced difficult financial circumstances, explaining that this year’s forecasted expenditure exceeded the available funding.

Financial difficulties have been an ongoing problem for the museum for years. In 2017, the Bavarian culture ministry, which oversees the museum, was forced to appoint a CEO to work alongside Enwezor in an attempt to keep the institution’s budget in line.

Under the partnership, the museum managed to raise €78 million ($83.7 million) for a much-needed but controversial refurbishment led by star architect David Chipperfield, and the municipal government offered the Haus der Kunst a €1.2 million ($1.5 million) boost in funding earlier this year.

Given the recent windfall, it comes as something of a surprise that the museum is beset by financial problems once again.

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