museum global - Excentric Modernity

Exhibition and Research Project at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

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The research project

As part of its research project “museum global” the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen directs attention to other possible narratives of modernism beyond the Western canon. The central question is: In a society so characterised by diversity, how do we deal with a contained collection of European and North American-based modern art? What other perspectives, themes and questions – also with regard to the museum’s own collection – can serve to open our eyes to other modernist traditions on the South American, African or Asian continent? And how does this impact our understanding of modernism in general?

The research activities and exhibitions on “Global Art” at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen concentrate on the period from 1910 to 1960. The Western-oriented collection of the Kunstsammlung NRW engages in dialogue with artworks from countries in South and Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Exhibition: Microstories of an Ex-Centric Modernism

In rooms normally reserved for artworks by European and American artists, the Kunstsammlung NRW has presented pieces from other countries of the world for several months, e.g. works of Modernismo from Brazil and the Zaria Art Society from the West African nation of Nigeria. The exhibition featured various artists and artist groups who had received little attention in Germany so far. Selected historical events and pioneering exhibitions served as the starting points for nine “microstories” from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Lebanon and Nigeria, each of which shed light on crucial moments of upheaval in different parts of the world.

In opening the Kunstsammlung NRW to alternative perspectives, the project has also established a special forum of exchange and contact. As a stage and library, the forum provided visitors from the city centre direct access to one of the larger exhibition rooms in the gallery. A film programme featuring works by international artists supplemented the microstories with their various themes from a contemporary perspective.


Three years of research went into the project prior to the exhibition. Two academic conferences at the Kunstsammlung NRW critically examined what has long been a Eurocentric view at museums and sensitised the professional community to other perspectives on art history with presentations by art experts from numerous countries.

Team of the project:

Kathrin Beßen, Janine Blöß, Susanne Gaensheimer, Julia Hagenberg, Doris Krystof, Nóra Lukács, Isabelle Malz, Maria Müller-Schareck, Sarah Schmeller, Peter Schüller, Melanie Vietmeier, Thelma Marimba Williamson

Symposium: "To whom does the museum belong?"

Questions and Prerequisites Regarding Museum Mediation in the Global Context

“To whom does the museum belong?” This seemingly simple question will be focus of discussion at a symposium of the same name, recast against the background of changing societies. It will serve as the starting point for reflecting on new forms of presentation and revealing cultural content and objects from a different perspective.1820 January 2017, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K20 Grabbeplatz

Global Museum

The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the MMK in Frankfurt and the Lenbachhaus Munich wish to address the effects of globalisation and digitalisation in a project that explores the complex subject of “globalism” and the challenges it brings. With the project “Global Museum” they scrutinise modernity and the canon upon which it is based.


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 10 November, 2018 to 10 March, 2019: Exhibition "Excentric Modernity"

    Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K20 , Düsseldorf

  • 18 January, 2017 to 20 January, 2017: Symposium "To whom does the museum belong?"

    Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf

  • 20 January, 2016 to 22 January, 2016: Academic Conference “museum global? Multiple Perspectives on Art, 1904-1950”

    Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf


Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
K20 Grabbeplatz

Grabbeplatz 5
40213 Düsseldorf (external link, opens in a new window)