Haus der Kunst in Munich.

Employees at Munich’s Haus der Kunst Fear Mass Dismissal

As the Haus der Kunst (HdK) in Munich continues to struggle to find secure financial footing, a proposed plan to cut two thirds of its part-time workforce has the institution’s employees fearing mass dismissal, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the German daily, as many as forty-eight jobs, including for cashiers, supervisors, and gatekeepers, could be eliminated or outsourced to other companies.

Bernhard Spies, an experienced crisis manager who was appointed commercial director of the HdK in 2018 to help it curb its deficit, said that after years of financial mismanagement, which nearly bankrupted the HdK, measures still need to be taken to help the institution become financially sustainable. “The economic situation has improved, but is still not relaxed,” Spies told Süddeutsche Zeitung. He stressed that he is “equally aware” of his responsibility for the economic well-being of the HdK and his social responsibility for the workforce.

The noncollecting museum has endured a tumultuous couple of years. In 2018, its renowned director, the late Okwui Enwezor, stepped down. That same year, its financial plight led to the cancelation of a major Joan Jonas exhibition. Shortly after, it also opted not to host the critically acclaimed Adrian Piper retrospective that was on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from March 31 to July 22, 2018. The HdK faced backlash over the programming change when it announced that an exhibition of work by German artist Markus Lüpertz would be organized in place of the two female artists’ shows.

Earlier this year, the HdK also made headlines after a labor court in Munich ruled in favor of a former HR administrator who filed a lawsuit against the museum after he was fired, claiming religious discrimination. The court found no valid grounds for his dismissal, and the HdK agreed to compensate the employee with a $123,000 severance package.

Spies is currently working to prepare for David Chipperfield’s renovation of the HdK, which will begin in 2020. During construction, the institution will partially close.