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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to inaugurate second Martin Roth Symposium "MuseumFutures"

From September 7 to 11, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa) in cooperation with re:publica will host the second Martin Roth Symposium online and live at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. The future of museums between democracy, power, architecture, entertainment and failure is the focus of the digital-analogue theme week, which will be inaugurated by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Due to the special situation this year, the Martin Roth Symposium will be launched digitally: After the official opening by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, international experts from the fields of culture, science, art and politics will discuss the current situation of museums, current challenges and visions for the future during the re:publica theme week from 7 to 11 September. The conclusion of the Martin Roth Symposium 2020 will be held on September 11 with an analog-digital program at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.


Digital program from September 7 to 10, 2020

Direct link to the livestream during the event:

The following topics will be discussed within the four-day, purely digital program from September 7 to 10, each from 5 to 7:30 PM.

Day 1: Museums and futures

  • Museums as lively places of democratic, global and open society, of representation and participation of all social groups
  • With contributions from Andrew McClellan (USA), Kavita Singh (India) and Philip Tinari (China), Zelfira Tregulova (Russia)

Day 2: Museums and power

  • The function of public and private museums in society and their role as a place of negotiation of interpretative sovereignty
  • With contributions from Hartmut Dorgerloh (Germany), Elvira Espejo (Bolivia), Julia Grosse & Yvette Mutumba (Germany) and Rooksana Omar (South Africa), among others

Day 3: Museums and entertainment

  • Accessibility, interaction, enjoyment, new tools and trends in the age of digitalization
  • With contributions from Pi Li (Hong Kong), Robin Reardon (USA), Tim Reeve (United Kingdom) and Marie Cecile Zinsou (Benin), among others

Day 4: Museums and architecture

  • Historical and future forms of museum space in which audience and artifacts, stories and readings can meet and interact
  • With contributions by David Adjaye (United Kingdom), David Chipperfield (United Kingdom), Bice Curinger (Switzerland) and Louisa Hutton (Germany), among others

In addition, Q&As with the participating speakers take place in digital discussion rooms, the "Deep Dives".

More information:


Program at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin on September 11, 2020

On September 11, the last day of the "MuseumFutures" theme week, the digital programme will be complemented with an interactive Werkstatt day (workshop day) from 1:30 to 8 PM at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Participation in the workshops is only possible after prior registration. 

Also the last panel discussion will take place at the museum, in the presence of an invited audience.

Day 5: Museums and failure

  • The importance of failure for self-reflection and as an engine of innovation for museums; taking responsibility, exchange of experiences and opportunities to learn from mistakes
  • With contributions from Inés de Castro (Germany), Małgorzata Ludwisiak (Poland), Michael Moriarty (Ireland)
  • In-depth workshops on the core topics of the previous days
  • Participation in the analogous day is only possible by invitation and after prior online registration


About Martin Roth Symposium

In honour of Martin Roth (1955-2017), one of Germany’s most innovative museum directors and cultural policy makers as well as the former president of ifa, experts from the cultural, academic, artistic, and political sectors gather biennially at the Martin Roth Symposium. Inspired by Roth’s own progressive convictions, they come together to develop new ideas and visions for the future. The first symposium entitled What Can Culture Do? took place in Berlin in 2018.

The concept for this year’s Martin Roth Symposium was developed in collaboration with an international committee and re:publica.

Committee members are Prof. Dr. Marion Ackermann, Nico Daswani, Prof. Dr. Kurt Forster, Dr. Andreas Görgen, Ronald Grätz, Benita von Maltzahn, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ulrich Raulff, Dr. Harriet Roth, Prof. Dr. Bill Sherman, Dr. Ellen Strittmatter, Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel and Prof. Dr. Mariët Westermann.

This year’s symposium is hosted by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) in cooperation with re:publica and with Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Funded by Federal Foreign Office