Hayward Gallery’s Stephanie Rosenthal Named Director of Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum

She joins a wave of Londoners to have taken up positions in Berlin recently.

Stephanie Rosenthal. courtesy Sydney Biennale

The board of directors of Berliner Festspiele, which operates the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum, has named Stephanie Rosenthal, chief curator of London’s Hayward Gallery, as the museum’s new director. The unanimous decision was approved by Germany’s federal cultural minister, Monika Grütters, at a meeting of the board on Wednesday, March 8.

Rosenthal will take up the post in February 2018, and succeed outgoing director Gereon Sievernich, who has been at the helm of Martin-Gropius-Bau since 2001.

The Munich-born curator has been at the Hayward since 2007. Prior to her position there, she worked at the Haus der Kunst in Munich for over a decade. Rosenthal was also the artistic director of the 20th Sydney Biennale, which took place in 2016.

Rosenthal has organized large-scale solo exhibitions by artists such as Pipilotti Rist, Ana Mendieta, Lee Bul, and Dayanita Singh, to name a few. She has staged exhibitions with a focus on happenings and performance with artists such as Christoph Schlingensief, Allan Kaprow, and Paul McCarthy.

Thomas Oberender, Director of Berliner Festspiele, said in a statement, “As a curator, [Rosenthal] has built an international reputation and network, is interested in a broad spectrum of artistic topics and—as she has recently proved in her work for the Biennale of Sydney—she thinks outside the box of artistic genres. All this is immensely promising for the development of the Berliner Festspiele. For her, politics and art as well as a resonance with the city and contemporary concepts of art institutions belong together. She fits in with Berlin and she fits in with the Berliner Festspiele—we are delighted.”

In her statement, Rosenthal offered a glimpse at what her programming at the museum might entail, saying, “In my view the institution’s unique history and location—right next to the former Berlin Wall—challenges us to engage with our own historical position. I take my own inspiration and guidance from artists and I will work with them as we continue to build an institution that is an ‘agency for action’ in our turbulent times, aiming always to be more inventive and more inclusive.”

Her appointment is the latest in a wave of high-profile positions in Berlin’s cultural institutions being occupied by Londoners: Former British museum director Neil MacGregor joined the advisory board of Berlin’s Humboldt-Forum in 2015; former Tate Modern director Chris Dercon will be heading to the the city’s Volksbühne theater this fall; and former V&A director, the German-born Martin Roth, reportedly plans to get into politics in the German capital.

In an email to artnet News, Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery said, “Since joining the Hayward team as Chief Curator in 2007, Stephanie has curated a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions […]. Stephanie will be greatly missed by all that have worked with her for her focus, intelligence, and generosity of spirit.”

Rosenthal will see through her work on the Summer 2018 exhibition at the Hayward. The institution will make an announcement over the coming months about their plans to recruit.

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