The economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has led to cutbacks in all sectors. The Münchner Stadtmuseum has already contributed to the City of Munich’s total savings target through substantial cuts to its 2020 budget.
It was announced at a press conference given by the Greens/Pink List and SPD/Volt on 17 July 2020 that an investment package of €140 million for the Münchner Stadtmuseum will now be deferred and the Museum’s general refurbishment postponed, despite the fact that this major, long-term cultural project has already begun. This announcement overturned previous decisions at short notice without any consultation with the Münchner Stadtmuseum. A vote in the full session of the City Council had been scheduled for 22 July 2020.
The Münchner Stadtmuseum team unanimously opposes the postponement of our general refurbishment plans. The Münchner Stadtmuseum demands a future!
Any postponement or suspension of the project can only deal a mortal blow to the Münchner Stadtmuseum. Its buildings, infrastructure and facilities fall far short of the standards expected for modern museum work and, indeed, by its visitors. This move damages both the reputation of Germany’s largest municipal museum and Munich’s standing as a city of culture. The bright future promised for the Museum by redevelopment has been abruptly truncated and no alternatives have even been proposed.
For the past 21 years, the Münchner Stadtmuseum has joined forces with partners in the Building, Culture and Local Government Departments to flesh out a redevelopment project to create a modern museum for the city of Munich, as mandated by Munich City Council. Our goal is to create a museum that serves as a collective memory for the city, discusses its present and its future, showcases its unique collections and reflects how society in our city is changing. It seeks to provide a much-needed forum for artists and others to discuss the issues that matter to the people of Munich. An open, diverse, and accessible space with ample facilities for educational activities and events.
In 2015, Auer Weber, a renowned architectural firm, was chosen to plan the project. Their design successfully implements all modern requirements, featuring a new public atrium and new central “cube”, the perfect complement to the buildings on Oberanger street, which are protected because of their historical importance. In 2019, after the adoption of further cost savings (for the armory and the Marstall building), the City Council approved a € 203 million budget for the redevelopment and general refurbishment of the museum complex.
Indeed, 70% of this sum has been allocated to conserving the 30,000 m2 of protected buildings alone. Right from the outset, only the most urgently needed maintenance work was included. This has resulted in a building envelope with a crumbling façade, and the closure of much of our exhibition space during the summer months. The high temperatures now experienced in the building are uncomfortable for visitors and damaging to the Museum’s artistic and cultural assets.
We contend with huge energy costs due to ageing HAVC systems and inadequate insulation and this is environmentally unacceptable. We witness the harm caused to the physical record of the city’s past and the Museum’s exceptional collections. It is hardly a good advert for the preservation of our cultural heritage when we see a dilapidated, makeshift venue abandoned to abject neglect right in the heart of the city.
We have also been obliged to rent a temporary new home for the Museum at considerable cost to ourselves. We are currently planning how to move our artifacts and staff to this new location.
The suspension of the general refurbishment planning process will generate significant additional costs when resumed in 2026, not in the least because construction costs will almost certainly have risen by then.
We demand a proper technical discussion of any financial measures required and a transparent decision-making process.
We also demand that our general refurbishment should proceed without further delay.
The Münchner Stadtmuseum team
20 July 2020