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Bern art museum seeks more sponsorship

Detail from Anker's 1874 portrait of Louise Anker (Bern museum) Detail from Anker's 1874 portrait of Louise Anker (Bern museum)

The Bern Museum of Fine Arts is bracing itself for a cash-strapped future with the arrival of the new Paul Klee centre on the city's outskirts in two years' time.

This content was published on February 22, 2003 - 12:16

It's feared visitors will by-pass the museum once it hands over its vast collection of Klee's work to the centre.

"This will be serious competition for us," museum director Matthias Frehner told swissinfo.

Meanwhile, the museum plans to make the most of its Klee treasure trove, the largest single public collection of his works.

Klee assets

Later this year, a series of 1933 drawings by Paul Klee will be on public view for the first time, with a hitherto overlooked political commentary about a year of personal upheaval in the life of the artist, who was born near Bern in 1879.

Klee was living in Germany in 1933 and after Hitler took power the Nazi authorities had him dismissed from his post as professor at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art.

He then returned to Switzerland, and some of his many drawings completed during that year will be exhibited from June 4.

Cash strapped

The Klee show is one of eight ambitious exhibitions planned for 2003 which the museum hopes will offer new perspectives on major Swiss artists.

For example, one exhibition will for the first time place that very Swiss painter, Albert Anker, in an international context by featuring his output between 1872 and 1890 when he worked in Paris.

However, the museum's exhibition programme has been compiled against a backdrop of growing financial constraints, with local corporate sponsors withdrawing support because as a result of the economic downturn.

Frehner says one of his targets this year is to attract them back.

The exhibition budget of SFr150,000 ($110,000) is considerably less than that at the disposal of the Kunstmuseum's counterparts in Basel and Zurich, cities which have a denser concentration of companies and therefore more sponsors available.

As a consequence, the eight exhibitions in Bern will have to be realised with only two curators.

Wooing sponsors

However Frehner is confident that his lack of resources can be overcome for the time being, and one of his innovations this year - a monthly "Happy Hour" - is aimed at making contact with potential sponsors as well as the art-loving public.

This will involve guided tours, discussions about art and a monthly evening aperitif.

"Another aim is to seek donations of works from local private collectors," says Frehner, who also plans to seek new international partner museums.

"We want to participate in more important exhibitions abroad, and at the same time get partners abroad for our own important exhibitions, for example one featuring works by the surrealist painter Meret Oppenheim."

swissinfo, Richard Dawson

In brief

The museum's permanent collection is one of the most distinguished in Switzerland, with 3,000 paintings and sculptures spanning eight centuries, as well as about 48,000 drawings, prints, photographs, videos and films.
It also includes art from the Italian Trecento (Duccio, Frau Angelico), Swiss art since the 1500's (Niklaus Manuel, Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet), international paintings from the 19th and early 20th Centuries, notably Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso.

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