Martin Roth Symposium

MuseumFutures – Save the Date

ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) will present the second Martin Roth Symposium from 10 to 11 September 2020 in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

Museums offer public spaces for encounters between people and ideas. If cultural products belong to the whole of humankind and if participation and inclusion are the means of lively communities, how might the museums of the future be built as spaces of polyphonic and critical dialogues under globalised conditions? How can these dialogues refer to our pasts and futures? How might they serve cultural democracy for all, while challenged by increasing anti-liberal tensions worldwide. And is it even possible to see the museum in a radically democratic light, as many artists and curators are demanding today?

This year’s two-day symposium asks critical questions about the museum’s future. It intends to identify innovative strategies which, from a global perspective, are needed to establish a space of democracy through architecture, analogue and virtual formats, local and international exchange, and alternative international (art) histories. Over two days, top international experts from these sectors will unpack and bring to light challenges and visions in the fields of museum and culture.

The symposium honours and commemorates the legacy of one of Germany’s most innovative museum directors and cultural policy makers: Martin Roth. Following its first issue in 2018, What can culture do?, the Martin Roth Symposium aims to biennially bring together thought leaders from the cultural, academic, artistic and political sectors to share ideas and future scenarios close to Roth’s own innovative convictions.


Thursday 10 September 2020

  • Panel 1: Opening Panel
  • Panel 2: Museums and Architecture

Friday 11 September 2020

  • Panel 3: Museums and Power
  • Panel 4: Museums and Failure
  • Panel 5: Museums and Entertainment

Review 2018

The Martin Roth Symposium in the Kraftwerk Berlin

Founded in 2018, the Martin Roth Symposium, named after one of the most notable museum directors, aims to honour his groundbraking achievements on behalf of the developement of cultural and social topics by perpetuating his ideas.

The opening symposium put the question, "What can culture do?". To give an answer, 44 international society and culture experts ressembled in the Kraftwerk Berlin to face more than 300 vistors, followed by inspiring and lively discussions with the audience.

Pictures and impressions of the conference | 2018

Statements, impressions and opinions | 2018


Museum für Naturkunde
Invalidenstr. 43
10115 Berlin

Martin Roth

‘I am convinced, that art and culture represent an indispensible foundation
of a society of democratic and peaceful coexistence.’

  • About

    As director general Martin Roth (1955-2017) did make his impression not only on the Dresden State Art Collections, but the international museum scene as well. Thus, as recognition for his outstanding cultural achievements he was invested with the order of knights respectively by France and Denmark. After his ten years’ stay in Dresden he was appointed as director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. There he lead the museum into a new era by opening the museum not only literally by the new Exhibition Road entrance he had added but also figuratively by daring to search for new ways to attract a broader audience and rethink the role museums can play in society. In 2016 after having returned from London he was unanimously elected honorary president of ifa.

    In honour of his accomplishments as museum director and cultural scientist and in remembrance of his great personality, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany instituted the Martin Roth Initiative  to enable creative artists and cultural mediators, who are repressed in their home countries a stay abroad to proceed their artistic and cultural work. Likewise, in 2018, the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden started a series of lectures, named after their former director general, Martin Roth Lecture. Since then the biennial conference, the Martin Roth Symposium, has been launched by ifa and the Federal Foreign Office.


Rainer Koch

Charlottenplatz 17
D-70173 Stuttgart

Logo of the Federal Foreign Office, © Federal Foreign Office
Funded by the Federal Foreign Office