Swiss Institute in New York appoints new director

Stefanie Hessler. Brittany Nelson, courtesy of Swiss Institute

German-born Stefanie Hessler, 35, will head the Swiss art space starting in May. Her appointment is part of several rearrangements in institutions run by the pharma billionaire Maja Hoffmann.

This content was published on March 16, 2022 minutes

Last October, the Swiss Institute, a non-profit contemporary art space in New York, announced that board chair Maja Hoffmann, one of the heiresses of the Roche pharmaceutical company, had been elected president of the board of trustees. Soon afterwards, in November, the former director Simon Castets left his position to become director of strategic initiatives at LUMA Arles, Hoffmann’s private foundation in France.

Castet ran the Swiss Institute for eight years, having raised millions of dollars and guided the move to the Institute’s new quarters in the heart of New York’s East Village. He will keep his connection with the SI as executive chair of the board.

Stephanie HesslerExternal link is currently director at Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway, having previously been curator of the TBA21–Academy in Vienna and London, a private interdisciplinary art and research platform with a focus on the oceans.

Her curatorial work and publications focus on the Global South and indigenous practices. She was also active in organising biennial exhibitions and projects in Brazil, Greece, Italy and elsewhere.

As for her plans for the Swiss Institute, the Art Review website quotes Hessler as saying: “My guiding question for SI’s next phase is: In our time of social and environmental urgency, how do we enrich and expand its programming, networks, and actions to collaboratively reimagine ways of thinking, doing, and living together?"

Founded 32 years ago by a group of Swiss expats, the Swiss Institute in New York initially focused on the presentation of Swiss artists and culture. Its mission was later expanded to include the promotion of international artists.

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