The Federal Cultural Foundation established the International Museum Fellowship in June 2011. The goal of the programme is to enable selected museums and public collections in Germany to employ outstanding young international researchers and curators for a period of 18 months.
The idea of creating such a programme came about following a survey of German museum directors. It revealed that, although there is considerable interest in expanding and internationalizing the activities at museums throughout Germany, very few museums collaborate with international researchers and curators on a regular and longer-term basis. With the ability to take on international researchers and curators for a limited time, the museums could explore new ways of presenting their collections and develop perspectives which inspire new research approaches and interpretations of their holdings beyond the nationally entrenched paths of reception and intellectual horizons.
With this fellowship programme, the Federal Cultural Foundation also hopes to strengthen international networks of researchers, curators and conservators, and promote intercultural competence at German museums. For these young and talented researchers, curators and conservators, who have gained some previous experience, the fellowships will allow them to improve their professional standing and career chances at a German museum. The fellowship holder can become familiar with the latest scientific and methodological developments in Germany related to his or her field, gain a comprehensive view of the working methods and holdings of a museum, and come in contact with colleagues and institutional partners, with whom they could engage in international cooperation in the future.
The programme plans to offer 20 fellowships at German museums. The fellowship holder will oversee a project under the supervision of a mentor, who works in a responsible position at the museum. Applying his or her relevant expertise, the fellowship holder is expected to independently carry out the project related to the main areas of the museum’s exhibition, research and collection activities.
A planned Academy Programme will provide professional support to the fellowship holders and facilitate contact-building between institutions in Germany and abroad. In addition to workshops for all the fellowship holders and their mentors, the Academy will host colloquiums and a concluding event, at which all participants will discuss and evaluate the programme’s success.
Furthermore, the Federal Cultural Foundation aims to increase the continued impact of the programme by funding up to ten follow-up projects. When the fellowship funding period concludes, the participating museum can apply for funding for a follow-up exhibition, carried out independently by the fellowship holder.
The Federal Cultural Foundation plans on implementing the fellowship programme together with the Goethe-Institut – a partner with extensive knowledge of cultural institutions in countries around the world. The Goethe-Institut, along with its regional branches, can assist German museums in an advisory function, locating suitable candidates at foreign universities, academies and museums for participation in the fellowship programme.
The Executive Board of the Federal Cultural Foundation is responsible for selecting fellowship winners and awarding possible follow-up project funding. Its decisions will be based on the recommendations of four independent experts: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Borsdorf, director of the Essen Ruhrmuseum Foundation; Julia Pattis, cultural scientist and trainee at the German Kinamathek – Film and Television Museum, advisory board member in the Museum Assistance working group at the German Museums Association with focus on international exchange; Dr. Perdita von Kraft, director of the Kunstmuseum Dieselkraftwerk Cottbus, Brandenburg Cultural Foundation in Cottbus; Prof. Thomas Weski, professor of Curatorial Cultures at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig.
The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated 2.58 million euros to fund the International Museum Fellowship from 2011 to 2016.
Further information on application conditions will be posted on the Federal Cultural Foundation’s website after 1 September 2011.