In 2018, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart celebrates its 175th anniversary. This jubilee provides us with the perfect excuse to shine a light on the fascinating history of the institution and its collection and to look behind the scenes of the everyday operation of the museum. Reviewing the important milestones and turning points, the exhibition is the first to offer a full survey of the history of the Staatsgalerie.
It traces the way in which over the decades, and especially after the end of the Second World War, the institution established itself as one of the most important museums of modern art in Germany. This openness to contemporary art was far from inevitable. Time and again, it was the hard-won result of social and political debates that set and reset the course the Staatsgalerie was to take. Some of the heated discussion were about the very underpinnings of the museum’s building, acquisition, restoration, exhibition and education strategies. The four architecturally distinct buildings and the rich diversity of the collection still bear witness to the intensity of those debates. Not every decision of the museum’s directors met with immediate public approval.
The citizens of Stuttgart have always had a very clear idea what they expected from ‘their’ museum and have never been shy about voicing their displeasure when they felt that these expectations were not met. Thus unavoidably accompanied by debate, the history of the Staatsgalerie shows that an art museum is not an ivory tower, but an institution that is deeply anchored in society and relevant to us all.