Federal Foreign Office
Institute of Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa)
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main

Role of the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany

The German Pavilion in the grounds of the Venice Biennial (Giardini Pubblici) is the property of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The commissioner for the German contribution to the Visual Arts Biennial is the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany


On the suggestion of an advisory committee, which has renowned Museum Directors and art experts as members, the Federal Foreign Office appoints a curator (formerly: commissioner) who is responsible for the selection of the artists and the organisation of the contribution. This appointment is usually for two years in succession.

At the Venice Biennial, Germany has traditionally been represented by its own pavilion commissioned and co-funded by the Federal Foreign Office. The Federal Foreign Office is keen to help foster a lively and creative arts scene in Germany as well as cultural exchange throughout the world. Such efforts are part and parcel of its cultural relations and education activities, which for many decades have been considered a key dimension of its foreign policy.

The Venice Biennial is not just a mecca for art-lovers everywhere but also an important forum for international exchange that attracts people from all over the world. This year Germany is once again represented at the Biennale with a Pavilion.

For the Federal Foreign Office, cultural engagement is a well-established tradition; we have long seen fostering lively cultural contacts as an important part of Germany’s foreign policy. The activities in this field are geared to a number of objectives. First and foremost to help people all over the world to discover Germany for themselves rather than relying on clichés and preconceptions. By the same token, Germany’s own culture and education will benefit as well if people are convinced abroad, for example, that Germany is an attractive place to study. At the European Union level it is hoped that activities in this field will increasingly help forge a common identity among citizens of the EU’s 27 member states.

To realize these objectives, the Federal Foreign Office and its embassies abroad work with a number of highly competent partners. The main organizations active in this field are the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations. The management of 117 German schools abroad is aided by a special body set up for this purpose, the Central Agency for Schools Abroad.

Working together, these institutions have achieved some impressive results. Across the world from Sao Paolo to Kabul some 70,000 young people a year attend German schools abroad. An estimated 150,000 people annually attend the Goethe Institute’s German courses. Currently some 30,000 young foreigners per year are studying at German universities on DAAD scholarships.

These figures also mean a host of personal ties with Germany and its people, ties from which both sides have much to gain. Learning to understand how a foreign artist or researcher perceives the world enables Germans to acquire new insights. In particular, the productive and stimulating exchanges that take place at the Venice Biennale forge enduring ties with the wider world. For German foreign policy as a whole, such ties are clearly a tremendous asset.

Contact: Section 602 Cultural Programmes (

Connecting Cultures – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations)

The Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) has been involved for more than 90 years in art exchange worldwide, in dialogue between civil societies and in the promotion of information about Germany’s foreign cultural policy. It is Germany’s oldest intermediary organisation for foreign cultural affairs.

Germany’s contribution to the Venice Biennale is presented by the German Foreign Office. In 1971 ifa took on responsibility for coordinating Germany’s contribution to the  Venice Biennale. The ifa has published a book on the history of German biennale exhibitions, which is also available in English. As well, ifa has produced a documentary archive on international biennales and supports artists living in Germany in participating in Biennales all over the world.

With art funding programmes, some 50 touring exhibitions around the world and ifa galleries in Stuttgart and Berlin, ifa is Germany’s leading institution in the field of artistic exchange. In so doing ifa promotes intercultural discussion and artistic dialogue.

Ifa also organises a wide spectrum of exhibitions around the world together with specialist curators. They are both monographic and thematic exhibitions of twentieth and twenty-first century German painting, photography, film, architecture and design. Workshops and an accompanying program of events for each exhibition serve to enhance intercultural dialogue.

Foreign cultural and educational policy is seen as an integral part of foreign policy and as an investment in Germany’s future. It serves to support peacekeeping efforts, the promotion of democracy, the realisation of human rights and cooperative partnerships. Stable networks that foster cross-border and cross-cultural understanding have been built up in recent decades. As an independent intermediary organisation ifa follows German foreign cultural policy guidelines and pursues pluralistic and non-partisan cultural work abroad.

The Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Stuttgart.

Contact: Elke aus dem Moore, Head of Art Department,

MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main

MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt/Main is one of the world’s most important museums of contemporary art and, despite being a relative newcomer on the scene, has in the space of less than two decades established a firm place for itself in the international museum scene.

Ever since MMK first opened in 1991, it has played a major part in the cultural and social life of the city. With its post-modern architecture, which is today considered quite exemplary, the MMK likewise offers a major platform for culture in Frankfurt, ensuring the city will never again lack a museum for contemporary art.

Today, the MMK Collection includes over 4,500 works of international art, ranging from the 1960s to the immediate present. In terms of its quality, diversity and incomparable profile, the MMK Collection stands out clearly from other museum collections. From the very outset, MMK has had to rely on the support of patrons and friends. In other words, over the last 20 years or so very close links have been forged to the citizens of Frankfurt, to whom the MMK is deeply indebted. It has likewise enjoyed the patronage of countless national and international corporations based in Frankfurt. It is this generous support that has enabled MMK to fulfill its duties as an educational institution and a museum.

Contact: Christina Henneke, Spokeswoman (


Germany’s worldwide cultural institution promotes the study of German abroad, manages international cultural collaboration and fosters extensive knowledge about Germany. In an age of new global challenges, the Goethe-Institut’s work is aimed at deepening understanding among cultures and at strengthening Germany’s standing in the world. In doing so, in addition to the fields of film, literature, music, theatre and dance, the visual arts from Germany also play a central role. With its diverse activities, the Goethe-Institut contributes to enabling international encounters with and examination of contemporary art from Germany. It initiates and promotes group and solo exhibitions in all genres: painting, sculpture, graphic arts, architecture, photography, media art, design and fashion. It produces documentary touring exhibitions on cultural and contemporary historical topics shown in cooperation with local partners abroad, organizes conferences and panel discussions on important trends and carries out workshops, artist-in-residence programmes and meetings with artists from Germany. In addition, the Goethe-Institut offers curators working in Germany who are pursuing practical research projects in international contemporary art the opportunity to apply for a grant for research travels abroad. In 2011, for the second time the Goethe-Institut is also supporting a German Pavilion at the Biennale in Venice with a substantial contribution. The Goethe-Institut had close ties with Christof Schlingensief through many joint activities – most recently the opera house in Africa. The Goethe-Institut accompanied the project from the site search phase and continues to be committed in its realization as an active partner.

At present, the Goethe-Institut has over 136 institutes and 11 liaison offices in 92 countries in addition to 13 institutes in Germany. The Goethe-Institut additionally supervises 76 reading rooms, dialogue points and information centres and 122 foreign-German cultural societies and 54 language learning centres. The Goethe-Institut is funded to a large part through annual contributions from the German Foreign Office.

Deutsche Welle

Germany’s international broadcaster has the legal mission to convey a comprehensive picture of life in Germany and, additionally, to deal with “German and other positions on important issues” and in particular to provide a forum aimed at “promoting understanding and dialogue between cultures and peoples.”

Deutsche Welle fulfils its mission with the programmes of DW-RADIO in 30 languages, DW-TV in German and English as well as programme slots in Arabic and Spanish, and DW-WORLD.DE – the multimedia and multilingual internet website. DW is comprised of a multinational team of roughly 1,500 employees from more than 60 countries.

DW also runs the DW-AKADEMIE for broadcasting professionals from developing countries and Eastern Europe.