Our task is to inspire visitors - Interview with Dr Alexander Klar (Part 3)
Your house offers a wealth of exhibits, from painting to natural science specimens. What is special about your museum, and why should people visit the Landesmuseum in Wiesbaden?
Anyone who loves German Expressionism is in very good hands here in Wiesbaden. We have the world's best Jawlensky collection with veritable masterpieces, and many other German Expressionist artists. We also deal very intensively with American art and Minimal Art, which along with the Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich, makes us unique in Germany. Thirdly, I want to emphasise that we are an interdisciplinary museum that shows natural science exhibitions alongside art, presenting them from an aesthetic perspective. The aesthetics of nature are labeled, exhibited and communicated in a way that is truly unique worldwide and can only be seen here in Wiesbaden. The specimens are constructed like individual sculptures and in this way, particularly emphasise their own value.
Interesting! How happy are you with the number of visitors to your museum?
I'm very happy, but as museum director, you always want to increase the number of visitors. My medium term goal is 100,000 visitors per year. We’ll reach this number with hard work and a large special exhibition, but I’d like to have this number as a healthy basis. A big step in this direction for us is the free entry Saturday, when we open the museum up completely on the first Saturday of every month without an entrance fee. It's a campaign that has been incredibly well received. We noticed that the interest in the museum is actually rather large, but for many people, a 10 € entrance fee is a big barrier, especially if you want to visit the museum with the whole family. But many people don't know that, either: children under 18 can visit for free.
A director always shapes the face of an entire museum. You have been director here for six years now. Which challenges from this time would you highlight in particular?
I am very fortunate that I was able to implement a whole new look and feel here at the Landesmuseum - also in terms of staffing. The curators, who play a major role in the museum’s success, have made positive changes through their increased responsibility, which makes me personally very happy. Everyone now feels jointly responsible here, even if the task at hand doesn't quite fit their job description...
What are you planning for the future? What major highlights can we expect in your museum?
My idea of a good museum is not to present one highlight after another. We try to put on bigger features every year, however I want people to come not because of the highlights, but because they count on the fact that things of a certain quality will be exhibited here. My dream is for the Landesmuseum Wiesbaden to be appreciated and visited for its work, and to manifest itself as an integral part of a cultural offering that’s worth visiting at any time.
Nevertheless, you are surely already thinking about the next transformations. How do you think the Museum Landscape will develop over the next few years?
What will certainly take hold in is the possibility of on a digital level, being able to immediately and directly find out about artworks and their creators in the museum and retrieve cross-references to other artists or works. The question is whether we want to leave that to Wikipedia or if we’re able to create our own platform. The anchor, and I am convinced of this, will always be the art on the wall. Even virtual reality glasses won’t be able to replace the scale and experience of a real work of art.
As an example, we started by having our own app developed for our museum, which as a first step, first and foremost provides us with information about how many people use it, how often and in which places. This is information that helps us to further develop the service concept. Obviously, the app primarily provides visitors with information about the exhibitions, including an audio guide, and methodically presents the topics in media form.
But in the end, I much prefer the idea that visitors don't have to "work" their way through the artworks, but can plain and simply wander around and let themselves be inspired...
Dr Klar, thank you for your time and this conversation.Previous article in the series:
Our task is to inspire visitors - Interview with Dr Alexander Klar (Part 2)
Published on 31.05.2018