Originally published December 15th in Sydsvenska Dagbladet.
translated by Anders Kreuger
The hurried decision to ‘reconstruct’ Lunds konsthall and discontinue its current activities causes us worry. There is a long tradition of municipal art galleries in Sweden. Lunds konsthall, inaugurated almost 60 years ago, is one the oldest in the country.
Art in our region is dependent on many autonomous spaces: municipal galleries, museums, other players. All of these, and an active Art Academy, contribute to creating the good reputation that our region enjoys, also internationally. In this context the municipal galleries have unique possibilities to make contemporary art visible, and thereby also to be platforms for experimentation and discussion.
It is interesting to relate the decision made in Lund to the Government’s Report on Museums, published in October. It suggests new legislation to protect that the autonomous status of museums – ‘at an arm’s length’ [from political power]. Content is to be decided by professionals.
Judging from reporting in the media, the proposal to close Lunds konsthall was processed fast and without dialogue. Making decisions about permanently transforming its activities without proper discussion is unfortunate – from the point of view of both the cultural field and democracy. The City of Lund is keen to protect its reputation as a City of Ideas [the official city branding slogan], an accommodating place offering good conditions for innovation. The self-image is dominated by terms such as ‘cutting-edge competence’ and ‘international collaboration’. Are these visions to be applied only in business and research, but not in the cultural field?
We believe that the City of Lund would commit a serious error by sinking its own nationally and internationally renowned municipal art gallery. The blank space that this would create cannot be filled any time soon. Instead of discontinuing activities, there should be investments in professional development and a show of intentions to assume a more active role in the cultural life of the region.
Patrick Amsellem, Director, Museum of Sketches for Public Art, University of Lund
Ýrr Jónsdóttir, Director, Ystad Art Museum
Max Liljefors, Professor of Art History and and Visual Studies, University of Lund
Elisabeth Millqvist and Mattias Givell, Managing Directors, Wanås Konst
John Peter Nilsson, Director, Moderna Museet Malmö
Marika Reuterswärd, Director, Kristianstad konsthall
Gertrud Sandqvist, Dean, Malmö Art Academy, University of Lund
Solfrid Söderling, Professor of Museology and Dean of the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Lund
Marika Wachtmeister, Founder of Wanås Konst
Cecilia Widenheim, Director, Malmö Art Museum