On 14 November 1988, the foundation “Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen” was established through a resolution passed by the city parliament of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The founding members were the municipality of Bremen, the Kunstverein in Bremen as well as the collectors Hans Grothe, Anna and Gerhard Lenz, Reinhard Konisch and Hartmut Ackermeier. The renovations of the building complex proceeded according to the plans of the Bremen architect Wolfram Dahm.
Thomas Deecke (1991 to 2005)
On 6 September 1991, the Neue Museum Weserburg Bremen was opened in the old warehouses under the direction of Prof. Dr. Thomas Deecke. The museum was an ab-solute innovation in Europe. For the first time, the concept was realized of a collectors’ museum in which the permanent exhibition would consist solely of works from private lenders. The energetic commitment of Thomas Deecke made it possible to establish a long-term connection between the institution and several outstanding collections from Germany and abroad. Since then, 5000 square meters of exhibition space have been used regularly to display works of contemporary art in numerous exhibitions and collection presentations. Mention should be made of successful exhibitions such as “Die Kunst und das schöne Ding” (1955), “Picasso, Guston, Miró, de Kooning” (1997) as well as “Fondation Maeght. Südliche Kunst unter nordischen Himmel” (2003). Moreover, many exhibitions that were developed by the curators of the Weserburg were subsequently taken over by well-known museums. For example, the exhibition “Minimal Maximal” (1999) went on tour from Spain all the way to Japan (2001) and Korea (2002).
Carsten Ahrens (2005 to 2013)
On 1 November 2005 Carsten Ahrens took over the museum. On 1 January 2007 his proposal was implemented to change the name of the institution to “Weserburg Museum for moderne Kunst.” His solo exhibitions on Jörg Immendorff (2007) and Helmut Newton (2008) were popular successes; with presentations on the artistic output of Stankowski (2007) or the thematic exhibition “Freibeuter der Utopie” (2011), he was able to open the Weserburg to a wider public. Under his directorship, there also began the collaboration with the kek Kindermuseum which, with its thematically varying, participatory exhibitions, ushered many young persons into the museum. Moreover, Carsten Ahrens brought into the Weserburg the exhibition of the master pupils of the Hochschule für Künste Bremen; this series, together with the Karin Hollweg Prize, makes an important contribution to supporting young artists and continues to be presented each year at the Weserburg right up to today. It was likewise under the direction of Carsten Ahrens that the most difficult phase in the history of the museum occurred. In order to put the institution’s finances on a firm footing over the long term, the foundation Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen decided to sell works from its own collection and thereby to set up a “fund for the future.” In November 2010 Gerhard Richter’s painting “Matrosen” (1966) and the painting “Lucia-no 1” (1976) by Franz Gertsch were auctioned off. A total of 51 works of art were transferred through private involvement to the holdings of the Kunsthalle Bremen. In addition, Carsten Ahrens initiated a debate concerning an altered location for the museum which continued for a number of years. He left the Weserburg in June 2013.
Peter Friese (2013 to 2018)
Peter Friese became the provisional successor to Carsten Ahrens. A curator at the Weserburg over many years, he concentrated on the institution’s obligation, formulated in the statutes of the foundation, to exhibit art of the 20th and 21st centuries from private collections. On 11 June 2015, Peter Friese was named director and continued in the direction he had embarked upon since 2013: the presentation of large, special exhibitions, on themes of contemporary relevance, which are generated primarily out of the collections themselves and are directed towards a wide audience—for example, “Kaboom. Comic in der Kunst (2013) and “Land in Sicht 400 Jahre Landschaftsbilder” (2015) or “Cindy Sherman” (2018). Moreover, “Young Collections” (2014-2018) was an exhibition series which featured young, private collections that had not yet been presented to the public in this form. This program established connections to young collections that since then have collaborated closely with the Weserburg, including the Dominic and Cordula Sohst-Brennenstuhl Collection (Hamburg), the Von Kelterborn Collection (Frankfurt), the Ivo Wessel Collection (Berlin), the Christian Kaspar Schwarm Collection (Berlin) and the Florian Peters-Messer Collection (Rhineland). It is thanks to the endeavors of Peter Friese that the art patrons Karin and Uwe Hollweg particularly enriched the Weserburg in 2018. Together they accomplished no less than acquiring for the Weserburg and Bremen the Karl Gerstner Collection, one of the most important collections of works from Fluxus and Nouveau Réalisme. And not only that — the purchase of the Sound Collection Guy Schraenen, one of the most important collections of its kind in the world, was made possible by the Hollwegs along with the Kulturstiftung der Länder. At the end of September 2018, Peter Friese entered retirement.
Janneke de Vries (since 2018)
Janneke de Vries has been the new director of the Weserburg since 1 October 2018.