Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.

Germany’s Largest Arts Employer to Dissolve, Giving Museums More Autonomy

A panel of academics has advised the German government to break up the state-funded Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in the interest of increasing the autonomy of its constituent institutions. The umbrella foundation—whose current staff is around two thousand people—is Germany’s largest arts employer and comprises fifteen collections, including the Pergamon Museum, the Hamburger Bahnhof, and the Neue Nationalgalerie, and some 4.7 million objects; its 2020 budget is approximately €336 million ($383 million).

The panel’s decision—which is supported by German cultural minister Monika Grütters and the foundation’s president, Herman Parzinger—arrives in the wake of a two-year, 278-page study that deemed the organization too large to function effectively. According to Die Zeit, which received a copy of the report before it was officially released on July 13, the study recommends that the foundation be split into four different autonomous bodies: one for Berlin museums, one for the State Library, one for the Prussian Secret State Archive, and one for the Iberian-American Institute. The report recommends increasing the individual museums’ budget autonomy and boosting funding for exhibitions, marketing, education, fundraising, and research. The reorganization also aims to modernize the foundation’s museums, bringing them up-to-date with countries that have made strides toward digitalization and the restitution of cultural artifacts obtained under colonialism. Parzinger has told reporters that he hopes the foundation and its unnecessary hierarchies will no longer exist when he retires in five years.