New director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation appointed

Dr Barbara Steiner will be the new director and CEO of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. She was selected by the Foundation Council from a total of 32 international applicants. The art historian with a doctorate will assume office on 1 September 2021.

“With Dr Barbara Steiner, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is gaining a new director with an outstanding personality and profound knowledge of modernism,” says Rainer Robra, Chairman of the Foundation Council and Minister of Culture of Saxony-Anhalt. “She also has many years of management experience in cultural institutions. In addition, she worked for many years in Leipzig and thus knows eastern Germany not only from media reports. I have confidence in her ability to link locally relevant topics to global discourses and thus to further develop the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Saxony-Anhalt as a cultural location. I am delighted with her appointment and wish her all the best.”

Dr Barbara Steiner (born 1964) studied art history and political science at the University of Vienna. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the ideology of the white exhibition space. Barbara Steiner has been director of the Kunsthaus Graz since mid-2016. Before that, she was a substitute professor for the master's programme Cultures of the Curatorial at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig for two years. In the 1990s, she directed the Kunstverein Ludwigsburg and the Kunstverein Wolfsburg and, from 2001 to 2011, the Foundation Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst (GfZK) in Leipzig. Barbara Steiner has also taught at the University of Art and Design Linz (1994–2000), the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (2000­–2002 and 2004/2005) and the University of Applied Arts Vienna (2007–2009).

Regarding her new position at the Bauhaus Dessau, Dr Barbara Steiner says: “I am looking forward to the new task and to continuing and expanding the excellent work done so far by the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation – in the field of tension between myth, brand, world heritage site, current demands on design research and teaching, artistic developments as well as global critical discourses that challenge the handling of the Bauhaus heritage. My content-related work will focus primarily on these interfaces. In addition, it is important to further promote networking in the city and region as well as with international partners.”

Barbara Steiner has repeatedly worked in practice with architects, designers and artists for many years. In Leipzig, a pavilion-like extension to the GfZK (Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst) was built in 2003/04 in close cooperation with as-if berlinwien. Following her structural-institutional interest, she initiated a scholarship programme for curators from former socialist countries there in 2003, as well as the Art Prize Future of Europe and INFORM, the prize for conceptual design, in 2007. In 2016/2017, the ground floor of the Kunsthaus Graz was redesigned together with architect Niels Jonkhans, landscape architects Topotek 1, artists Superflex, Hannes and Herta Priesch, and designers Anna Lena von Helldorff and Oliver Klimpel. These projects are primarily interventions in existing structures that mean a disruption of institutional routines and challenge work-sharing and roles between “content/programme” and “service”.

In addition to artist monographs, Dr Barbara Steiner has published a number of thematic books on museums, spatial concepts, the connection between architecture, design and art, the communication of art through architecture, the relationship between public and private, and the interface between art and economy. Among others, these include: Mögliche Museen (with Charles Esche), Köln 2007; Spaces of Negotiation (with as-if wienberlin), 2009; Das eroberte Museum, 2010; Scenarios about Europe, 2012, and Europe (to the power of) n, 2013; BIG, Topotek 1 and Superflex, Superkilen, 2014; Creative Infidelities, On the Landscape Architecture of Topotek 1, 2016; KUNST ⇆ HANDWERK. Zwischen Tradition, Diskurs und Technologien, 2019; Kunst Haus Graz (with Sophia Walk, Anna Lena von Helldorff and Katia Huemer), 2021.

Dr Barbara Steiner will succeed Dr Claudia Perren, who left the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation at her own request on 31 July 2020. She became director of the Academy of Art and Design (FHNW) in Basel.