Curator Klaus Biesenbach on Museums as Social Networks

The curator is back in his native Germany to helm two institutions.

Klaus Biesenbach in Berlin. Photo: Stefanie Loos/AFP via Getty Images.

Most loyal Art Angle followers will be familiar with the curator Klaus Biesenbach. The German-born artist made his mark in Berlin in the 1990s, founding the city’s biennale and one of its most-beloved art institutions, Kunst-Werke. He moved West, across the water, becoming director of MoMA PS1, and chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, before moving even further west in 2021 to take up a directorship at MOCA, Los Angeles. Biesenbach gained a reputation for leveraging the power of celebrity, working with artists and stars like Marina Abramovic and art-adjacent creatives like Patti Smith and Bjork; he is known for creating and capturing social moments while also rethinking the social nature of museums.

Now, he’s back home in Germany, heading up not just one, but two of the country’s most important museum projects, in a post he called “once-in-a-life-time honor.” One museum is a highly symbolic historical treasure, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe. The other, is a museum still to come, the massive Berlin Modern, which is set to open next door to the Neue Nationalgalerie in 2026.

Artnet News’s Berlin-based senior editor Kate Brown checked in with Biesenbach just as he was closing a major retrospective dedicated to Isa Genzken and while the foundation is being laid at the Berlin Modern.


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