Outgoing V&A Director Martin Roth Wants to Go Into Politics

The German is unhappy with cultural policy.

Martin Roth accepts the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize from the Duchess of Cambridge on behalf of the V&A. Photo: Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images.

Martin Roth, the outgoing director of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, has announced his ambitions to become politically active in his native Germany.

Speaking with the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Roth said that while he’s not planning on joining a political party, he’s planning on engaging more in the political dialogue. “The theme of an open society has preoccupied me, also and especially in Germany,” he said, revealing that he’d like to become “more political than is possible in my current occupation.”

Last week, Roth surprisingly announced his resignation from the V&A after five successful years at the helm of the venerable British institution. During his time at the museum, he presided over hit shows such as “David Bowie Is” and “Savage Beauty,” a wildly-popular collaborative exhibition with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on British designer Alexander McQueen which attracted half a million visitors from 87 countries, becoming the institution’s most successful exhibition ever.

The Elytra Filament Pavilion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The V&A is one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

He confirmed rumors that the recent “Brexit” vote was behind his decision to step down. “To live in a country which has turned its back on Europe, I can’t live with that day-to-day,” he said. “London always seemed like one of the best cities to live. But now there are xenophobic attacks taking place, both physical and verbal.”

Before the referendum—in which British citizens voted to leave the European Union—Roth criticized the anti European rhetoric to DW. “Just the thought that we could be ruining everything our parents’ generation achieved—a policy of peace, reconciliation, and common thought—is quite a horrible perspective,” he said at the time.

Roth also criticized Germany’s deeply unpopular culture minister Monika Grütters. He himself “would definitely do the job much better than the present incumbent,” he said. However Roth did not go into detail about what shape his political ambitions would take in practice.


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