Martin Roth Symposium

What can culture do?


Date: 22-23 June 2018 
Venue: Kraftwerk Berlin, Köpenicker Str. 70, 10179 Berlin

Friday 22 June



Beginning of conference

15.00 - 15.30

Main Stage: Welcome

  • Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy, Federal Foreign Office

  • Ulrich Raulff, designated President, ifa

  • Bill Sherman, Director, Warburg Institute London

  • Dimitri Hegemann, Director, Kraftwerk Berlin

  • Nick Mason, drummer and archivist, Pink Floyd

Sparking the Agenda: Unfinished Tasks in the Cultural Realm

15:30 – 16:30

  • Paolo Baratta, President, La Biennale di Venezia

  • Sunil Khilnani, Avantha Professor and Director, India Institute King's College London

  • Lazare Eloundou, Deputy Director, Division for Heritage and World Heritage Centre, UNESCO

  • Koyo Kouoh, Founding artistic director of Raw Material Company

  • Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Envoy of the President of the Russian Federation for international cultural cooperation

16.30 – 17:00


Session 1: National treasures without nationalism

Cultural objects serve as points of reference for social cohesion and national identity. How can we celebrate national heritage without falling into the trap of nationalist attitudes? How can our national treasures be accessed across national borders? Are there new ways of sharing national heritage? What kinds of curatorial practices and projects help to prevent exclusive mentalities? What do we know about the economy of objects and how can this economy of objects be dealt with – or maybe even changed? What other frames of reference could be thought of outside national paradigms?

17:00 – 18:00

  • Kurt Huebner, Professor of European Studies and the Jean Monnet Chair at the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia, Canada
    The Return of Borders – Nationalism, Populism and the Project of European Integration

  • Zelfira Tregulova, Director, State Tretyakov Gallery
    Bridges and Borders - What Can Culture Do Today

  • Wayne Modest, Head of the Research Center for Material Culture, the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Africa Museum 
    Contemporary Conjunctures: Objects, (trans-)Nationalism and the Question of the Colonial Past in the Present

  • Sigrid Weigel, (Former Director of) Research Center of Literature and Culture, Berlin
    Culture and Thinking in Transition - the European Intellectual Heritage of Aby Warburg 

18:00 – 19.00

Break out Session 1

  • Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Director, MAK, Vienna
    Back to the Future: Learning by Deconstructing National Treasures

  • Pepe Serra Villalba, Director, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
    Reinterpreting the National Treasure Collection

  • Giorgia Abeltino, Director Public Policy, Google Cultural Institute Director Public Policy Google
    Arts & Culture Culture to build bridges

  • Andreas Beyer, Professor for Art History at the University of Basle
    Art and nationhood. Can artistic styles be national?

19.00 - 21.00


Saturday 23 June 

11.00 –12.00

Admission, get together and brunch

Session 2: Turning the museum inside out - Broader access and new audiences

Museums are collections of objects but they are also spaces for knowledge production, research and discourse. Martin Roth often spoke of his desire to ‘turn the museum inside out’: this was his way of asking how we can make museums, their collections and the knowledge carried within them more transparent and accessible—not least for new generations. How can they open up for more diverse audiences? How can museums be better connected internationally? What are best practices and what are the challenges of making objects available online?

12.00 – 13.00 

  • Suay Aksoy, President, ICOM
    The Museum and its Various Communities

  • Mariët Westermann, Executive Vice President for Programs and Research, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    The Museum beyond Walls

  • Wim Pijbes, Managing Director, Foundation Dream and Do
    The Museum of the Future: Access to Authenticity

  • Stefan Simon, Director, Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives, Yale University
    Culture in Crisis: the Human Dimension of Sustainable Preservation 

13.15 – 14.00

Break out Session 2

  • Discussion with Suay Aksoy, President, ICOM and Mariët Westermann, Executive Vice President for Programs and Research, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

  • Johannes Vogel, General Director, Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin
    Innovation with Participation

  • Gerhard Wolf, Director, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence (MPI)

  • Markus Hilgert, Director ZEDIKUM
    Inside-Out: Challenges and Potential of Digital Applications

Session 3: Design-protest-dissent: cultural activism rethought

One of the most successful exhibitions during Martin Roth’s tenure at the V&A was called Disobedient Objects. It showed how political protest and social action involve design; but it also showed how objects have an ability to break out of the boundaries we place upon them and take on a life of their own. Cultural objects have an impact on our social lives that transcends their aesthetic qualities. Juxtaposition and dislocation allow for new spaces of freedom, but can also provoke and sometimes even endanger. How can we cherish and handle this disobedience of objects and practices? Are specific contextual practices needed? What skills does creative disobedience require, how could it be fostered? 

14.15 – 15.15 

  • Nico Daswani, Head of Arts and Culture, World Economic Forum
    A Disobedient Idea: Touring with the Afghan Women's Orchestra in Europe

  • Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Design
    De-Institutionalizing Cultural Practice

  • Mateo Kries, Director, Vitra Design Museum
    From Countercultures to Critical Design: Re-inventing the Design Museum

  • Catherine Flood, Curator, V&A
    Escaping the Archives: a Disobedient Tear Mask

15.30 – 16.15 

Break out Session 3

  • Jonathan Ledgard, Director, Rossums
    New Mixing of Immateriality and Materiality 

  • Sunil Khilnani, Avantha Professor & Director, India Institute, King's College London
    Cultural Domestication of Radical Disturbers: from Buddha to Gandhi

  • Sophia Prinz, Research Associate at the Department of Comparative Cultural Sociology,
    Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)
    Becoming Contemporary: the Case of a Neolithic Goddess from Mesopotamia

  • Bill Sherman, Director, Warburg Institute London
    Rewriting the Museum Label

Session 4: Cooperating - culture for the sake of global public goods

Culture and design can build bridges between societies, even those for whom political discourse has broken down. They can provide opportunities for dialogue and cooperation in even the most challenging circumstances. What are best practices for displaying cultural practices as practices for the common public good? What challenges need to be acknowledged? How could they be overcome? 

16.30 – 17.30 

  • MA Yansong, Architect, MAD architects
    Design of Museums

  • Koyo Kouoh, Founding artistic director of the Raw Material Company
    What Culture Can Do

  • HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson, Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute and Reach Out to Asia 
    Art as Dialogue and Learning Platform

  • Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, Victoria and Albert Museum
    The V&A and China: Cultural Branding and the Creative Economy

17.45 – 18.30

Break out Session 4

  • Benita von Maltzahn, Director Global Corporate Citizenship, Volkswagen Group
    Sharing Values. And Ideas

  • Mareile Flitsch, Director, The Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich
    Skills and the Other: Chances for Collaborative Ethnographic Museums in Global Contemporaneousness

  • David Chipperfield, Architect, David Chipperfield Architects
    What Role Can Architecture Play in Cultural Collaboration?

  • Zhao Rong, Deputy Director of Design Society, Shekou
    Design Society Through Cultural Collaboration

Wrap up

18.45 – 19.15

Main Stage

  • Andreas Goergen, Head of Directorate-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office

  • Sonja Zekri, journalist and author

19.30 - 21.00

Festive Dinner

  • Round of interviews: take off


Music: Yannick Ballmann Trio