Visual arts and exhibitions


Promoting the visual arts and exhibitions is an important part of the Federal Foreign Office’s cultural activities

Role of the Federal Foreign Office

Exhibition © picture alliance / dpa
​​​​​​​The bulk of our cultural budget goes to fund programmes run by partner organizations in the field of cultural relations and education policy such as the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in Stuttgart (www.ifa.de), the Goethe-Institut in Munich (www.goethe.de) with its cultural institute network as well as the German Academic Exchange Service Berlin (Artists-in-Residence Programme; www.daad-berlin.de).

The remainder is used to fund larger exhibitions on cultural and historical topics staged by German museums abroad as well as German participation in major international art exhibitions and biennales. For the Venice Biennale the Federal Foreign Office appoints the curator of the official German contribution and provides a large share of the funding. On art and exhibition matters we are advised by our Art and Exhibitions Committee, a group of prominent museum directors and art experts.

Funding programmes

The visual arts funding programmes of the Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations concentrate on presenting and publicizing abroad the work of contemporary German artists. With its extraordinarily lively and creative arts scene, Germany is seen as an important and innovative centre which in this area, too, helps shape trends across Europe and the wider world.

The Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations curates and stages touring exhibitions in the field of the visual arts, photography, art cinema, architecture and design for museums and other exhibitors. The exhibitions it stages around the world are often organized in partnership with the local Goethe-Institut branch as well as in cooperation with museums and other exhibitors in Germany and abroad. The Institute supports projects abroad by contemporary German artists and at its Stuttgart and Berlin galleries shows works by artists from developing and transition countries. Alongside its exhibition programmes in Germany and abroad, the Institute is involved in various activities designed to support, inform about and advise on international arts and cultural exchange.

The Goethe-Institut curates and stages exhibitions on cultural and historical topics and presents exhibitions curated by German museums and galleries at selected venues abroad. In close cooperation with major host-country museums, exhibition centres and galleries, the Goethe-Institut also curates, stages and funds individual and group exhibitions abroad on German art and other topics, which in appropriate venues may be shown at its own galleries. The Goethe-Institut also organizes and sponsors contact-promoting activities (seminars, discussion groups) as well as artist-in-residence programmes abroad for German artists and curators.

Under its Berlin Artists-in-Residence Programme the DAAD awards foreign artists scholarships for an up to one-year stay in Berlin. In due course these artists can show their work at the DAAD gallery in central Berlin. Subsequently many opt to stay on in Germany for a while and as university lecturers or in other ways continue to enrich debate on the arts and the arts scene in Germany.

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