– Gerhard Steidl, founding director
The Kunsthaus Göttingen is an exhibition space for works on paper (drawings, graphic prints, book and poster art), photography, and new media. The focus is on contemporary art with an international emphasis. In the curatorial planning, close cooperation with the artists is critical. Their work receives a platform, and they also receive the opportunity to create new productions, collaborations, and interactive projects.
The program will feature three to four exhibitions per year as extensive solo or group exhibitions with a diverse collateral program, especially for children and young people.
During the construction phase and operation in the first few years, the Kunsthaus Göttingen team consists of the Founding Director Gerhard Steidl, the Founding Managing Director Alfons von Uslar, the curator Ute Eskildsen and the guest curator Joshua Chuang.
The Founding Director Gerhard Steidl supports all aspects of the project. He runs the Steidl Verlag near the Kunsthaus Göttingen. As early as 1969, he printed posters and multiples for artists such as Joseph Beuys and Klaus Staeck and today publishes selected art and photography books, literature, and political non-fiction. In addition to making books, Gerhard Steidl designs, and curates exhibitions worldwide.
Alfons von Uslar supports the project as the Founding Managing Director voluntarily during the start-up phase. The trained agronomist and qualified lawyer returned to his hometown of Göttingen after several years abroad to run the family business. He has in-depth knowledge of business processes and legal questions combined with a great interest in art and culture.
Ute Eskildsen is the founding curator of the Kunsthaus. She advises the City of Göttingen on construction planning and is significantly involved in the programmatic direction of the art institution. Eskildsen was deputy director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen, where she headed the photography department, which she initiated. Her curated photography exhibitions at the Folkwang Museum are famous beyond the borders of Germany.
Joshua Chuang will be a guest curator at the Kunsthaus Göttingen. As the first curator in the Art Gallery at Yale University, he established the photography section and worked there as chief curator. Today he works as head of the Wallach Division of Art, Prints & Photographs, and as a curator for photography at the New York Public Library and teaches at Yale University School of Art.
architecture and courtyard
The idea for the Kunsthaus Göttingen was born out of the idea of giving visual art more space and presence in the city of Göttingen. The building is currently being completed on Düstere Straße 7, next to the Günter Grass Archives. As early as 2008, the publisher Gerhard Steidl and the then-mayor Wolfgang Meyer presented the idea of an art district with the Kunsthaus as its focal point.
For the project planned together with Gerhard Steidl, the city has received funding of 4.5 million euros from the federal program “National Projects of Urban Development.” The Duderstadt entrepreneur Hans Georg Näder is supporting the construction of the Kunsthaus with up to one million euros.
In 2016, the architecture studio Atelier ST from Leipzig was awarded the contract for the architecture and general planning of the Kunsthaus Göttingen after an international architectural competition. The architects Silvia Schellenberg Thaut and Sebastian Thaut combine tradition and the contemporary in their work. Silvia’s concept reflects this in her approach for the Kunsthaus Göttingen: its external appearance transforms regional details and geometries from the context of the Göttingen old town into an independent, modern museum architecture. The new building is thus clearly recognizable as an exhibition space integrated into the cityscape of Göttingen.
Berlin landscape architect Stefan Bernard won the competition for the design of the inner courtyard in 2017.
The four-story construction with a pointed roof is in dialog with the neighboring half-timbered houses – here, too, moving upwards the floor space expands. The outer shell made of bricks also evokes memories of older warehouses in the surrounding area.
Via an entrance gate, visitors step into the foyer of the Kunsthaus. A view of the greenery in the inner courtyard on the opposite side offers the first impression. The first gallery on the right-hand side consists of three column-free rooms of approximately 120 square meters, and the 3.20 meters height emphasizes the uniqueness of the building. This free space allows maximum flexibility for different exhibition concepts across all floors. In order to protect the paper works and enable video installations and projections, the one large, floor-to-ceiling window can be concealed if necessary. In addition to the three galleries, the building has four smaller exhibition rooms. On the top floor, there is a 100 square meter »forum« for mediation work and special events. The Kunsthaus Göttingen thus has a total exhibition area of 736 sqm.
The Kunsthaus Göttingen shares its courtyard with the Rote Strasse bookshop and the office of the “Literary Autumn” Festival. The courtyard is accessible from three sides and forms a mutual garden of the buildings. Not far from the main shopping streets, this creates a green oasis, a place for a casual meeting, lingering, and interaction. The previous playground with the sandbox will also return to the courtyard. The children can move freely in the bordered garden. An additional highlight will be the pavilion with works by the American pop artist Jim Dine.
The city of Göttingen and the publisher Gerhard Steidl have been pursuing the idea of an art district since 2008. Located in the historic core of the city between Düsterer Strasse, Nikolaikirchhof, Nikolaistrasse, and Turmstrasse, the district is already considered the “nucleus” of the art district with the studio of an American artist, a framing workshop, two bookbinderies, a private gallery, a bookshop, the literature center, the office of the Göttingen literary festival, an international publisher and a workshop for high-quality exhibition prints as well as various cafés and other small businesses. The Günter Grass Archives, which belong to the University of Göttingen, has been active as an exhibition and event location since 2015. In 2016 it was awarded the “Monument Preservation Prize” by the Lower Saxony Savings Bank Foundation.
The Kunsthaus Göttingen will be a unique art space, with a focus on current positions of contemporary international artists from various media. As the heart of the art district, it promises a further, valuable revitalization of the Göttingen cultural landscape and is thus the most crucial step in the development of the district.