The Way We Are

30.09.2023 - 30.08.2026
Via Lewandowsky, Hansi Goes Down, 2009, Sammlung Haus N, Foto: Eric Tschernow © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

The new hanging of the collection exhibition The Way We Are is now being presented for the fifth time at the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst. There are many discoveries waiting to be made this time as well, with more than 120 works from 100 artists and artist groups from different times and contexts. Thematic areas extending over 2,500 square meters formulate a multiplicity of different statements from the 1960s to today.

There are spaces devoted to political, contemplative or humanly altered landscapes, to images of Germany, to love in all its clichés, to gender-related or cultural identities, to (post-)colonialism, but also to the concept of painting or to the vertical form. Thus the focus is on art-historical issues as well as on social-political discourses. A basic idea running through the exhibition is the potential of art to develop oppositional points of view onto what is familiar, to adopt surprising perspectives with regard to what links us all, and thereby to offer exciting, unusual, clever, humorous, poetical or merciless foundations for approaching the great issues of our era.

“What began in 2019 as a new orientation and experiment has proven itself in the past four years to be a successful format for the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst. Since the introduction of The Way We Are in 2019, we have been able to register a doubling of the number of collections collaborating with our museum. That is not only a wonderful confirmation of the path we have embarked on, but also the assurance of a bright future for the Weserburg as a collectors’ museum.” Janneke de Vries


Exhibition on levels 1 and 2

Curated by Ingo Clauß and Janneke de Vries


Opening, Friday, 22 September, 7 pm

Admission free

With the kind support of

NEW: Anna Ehrenstein

Fig.: Anna Ehrenstein, Pvssy Divx (Tupamaras Technophallus), 2020, Sammlung Haus N, courtesy the artist, KOW and Office Impart, Exhibition view: KOW Berlin, Out of the Dark II

New artist space from March 16, 2024

Anna Ehrenstein. Protest Practice / Tupamaras Technophallus

Fluid body images and identities, the relationship between humans and technology, capitalism and new forms of resistance and activism. Anna Ehrenstein (*1993) focuses on virulent issues in our society as if through a burning glass. Her futuristic-looking visual worlds and video works have a shrill and challenging effect. The most diverse aesthetics of high and popular culture collide, be it dance, music video, performance or kink, in the form of workshops and performances, as virtual 3D videos or expansive installations.

In her artistic practice, Anna Ehrenstein focuses on collaboration, preferring to work in and with collectives. This also links the two groups of works that the German-Albanian artist is bringing together at the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst. Protest Praxis takes the Afro-Asian writers’ conferences, first held in Tashkent in 1958, as a starting point for criticism, analysis and new utopian ideas. The works are part of the collaboration Albanian conference with DNA, Fadescha and Rebecca Pokua Korang. The work Tupamara’s Technophallus in turn reflects on socially relevant issues against the backdrop that even the latest technological achievements perpetuate historically evolved imbalances of power.

On display are fitness equipment combined with monitors, photographs extended into the space and textile sculptures.In the exhibited works, Ehrenstein makes queer-feminist perspectives visible, incorporating people from various fields of knowledge, including a cultural activist, a music duo and a dance collective from Bogotá.In this way, entrenched narratives and power structures are broken up and new knowledge and transcultural perspectives are made possible.

What Is There To See?

Scheffka, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Birds twitter in the museum elevator. Hollywood clichés of love are examined in succession. Different concepts of painting are presented, or spatial drawings are hung on strings. Enigmatically poetical drawings are made out of posters glued atop each other and then ripped apart, or proverbial sayings turn into three-dimensional objects. The numerous possibilities of the color of black are opened up, or natural landscapes are painted over. Doorknobs and light switches suggest entrances to imaginary worlds, or a parakeet tumbles headfirst into its undoing.
In The Way We Are, young positions hang on a par with old (or older), international positions alongside German artists, including artists from Bremen; art of aborigines or from Africa or the Near East is juxtaposed with works from the Western world.

The thematic areas are complemented by an extraordinary art bar—a former filmset by the American artist Mel Chin and GALA Committee—as well as by an artist space of the British artist Jonathan Monk. The space permanently installed since 2020 in honor of the Bremen painter Norbert Schwontkowski now, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death, brings to light his lamentably less-known graphic oeuvre and combines it with a surprising, artistic proximity to Andreas Slominski.

Living Collection Presentation

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Darkroom Mirror, 2018, Miettinen Collection

The Way We Are is structured as a living collection presentation that is varied at regular intervals. From time to time, art works are added, shift their location or disappear; work constellations are shuffled, thematic areas are reworked and new artist’s spaces are created—in a form that elevates critical inquiry to a principle and delights in transformative discovery. In order to realize this idea even better in the future, the extensive yearly changes that have defined the format up to now will in the future give precedence to smaller or larger alterations that will occur continuously. In this way the collection presentation remains uninterruptedly accessible as such to the public and simultaneously offers constantly new art experiences to individuals who make repeated visits.

The basis for The Way We Are consists of loans from more than thirty international private and corporate collections that have close ties to the Weserburg, as well as complementary loans from artists and galleries along with works from the museum’s own holdings.


Nevin Aladağ, Francis Alÿs, Tamina Amadyar, Carl Andre, Kader Attia, Hicham Berrada, Julius von Bismarck, Rahel Bruns, Angela Bulloch, Miriam Cahn, Louis Cane, Claudia Christoffel, Claire Fontaine, Mel Chin & GALA Committee, William N. Copley, Paul Czerlitzki, Jeremy Deller, Braco Dimitrijević, Marcel Duchamp, Anna Ehrenstein, Ólafur Elíasson, Jan-Paul Evers, Larissa Fassler, Valérie Favre, Robert Filliou/Daniel Spoerri/André Thomkins, Ceal Floyer, Kasia Fudakowski, Simon Fujiwara, Isa Genzken, Hans Haacke, Terike Haapoja, Raymond Hains, Petrit Halilaj, Mona Hatoum, David Hockney, Sabine Hornig, Nadira Husain, Iran do Espiritu Santo, Mabel Juli (Wiringgoon), Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Willi Kopf, Kitty Kraus, Alicja Kwade, Zoe Leonard, Ghislaine Leung, Via Lewandowsky, Allan McCollum, John McCracken, Michaela Mélian, Tracey Moffat, Jonathan Monk, Horst Müller, Juan Muñoz, Cady Noland, Ruben Ochoa, Ahmet Öğüt, Roman Ondak, Paul Pfarr, Claudia Piepenbrock, Charlotte Posenenske, Bettina Pousttchi, Laure Prouvost, Shirley Purdie, Ariel Reichman, Tim Reinecke, Aurora Reinhard, Pipilotti Rist, Fred Sandback, Karin Sander, Norbert Schwontkowski, Ul Seo, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Richard Serra, Qui Shihua, Santiago Sierra, Marianna Simnett, Andreas Slominski, Daniel Spoerri, Sibylle Springer, Elaine Sturtevant, Mari Sunna, Iiu Susiraja, Walter Swennen, Jean Tinguely, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Gavin Turk, Anna Uddenberg, Ulay, Jorinde Voigt, Franz Erhard Walther, Andy Warhol, Grace Weaver, Claudia Wieser, Cathy Wilkes, Sonja Yakovleva, Nil Yalter, Catherine Yass, Heimo Zobernig.

Participating Collections

Art Collection Telekom, Art’Us Collectors‘ Collective, Sammlung Bähr/Frost, Sammlung Karl Gerstner/Sammlung aus Privatbesitz, Sammlung Gräfling, Sammlung Haubrok, Collection of Ryan Jefferies, Sammlung Haus N, Sammlung von Kelterborn, Sammlung Lafrenz, Sammlung NORD/LB Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, Miettinen Collection, Family Collection Pitrowski-Rönitz, Sammlung Gaby und Wilhelm Schürmann, Sammlung Christian Kaspar Schwarm, Sammlung Seinsoth, Sammlung Gerhard und Elisabeth Sohst, Sammlung Dominic und Cordula Sohst-Brennenstuhl, Sammlung Boner & Spiegelberger Stiftung, SÛ Collection, Sammlung Reydan Weiss, Sammlung Wemhöner, Sammlung Ivo Wessel, Sammlung Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst as well as numerous loaners who wish to remain unnamed.

Focus: Norbert Schwontkowski

Norbert Schwontkowski_spiritual defense, 1994, Sammlung Seinsoth

In 2019, around 210 individual works by Norbert Schwontkowski (born 1949 in Blumenthal, died 2013 in Bremen) from the Brigitte and Udo Seinsoth Collection entered the Weserburg Museum für Moderne Kunst on a permanent basis. Since then, an artist’s room dedicated to Norbert Schwontkowski has been an integral part of the exhibition format The Way We Are. The selection of works and their emphasis in terms of content are varied at regular intervals.

The upcoming presentation focuses on Schwontkowski’s graphic work. It will be combined with a large sculpture by Andreas Slominksi. In 1994, Andreas Slominski and Norbert Schwontkowski were joint winners of the Art Prize of the City of Bremen. After 30 years there is now a dialogical re-encounter.

Earlier versions of Schwontkowski’s artist spaces from the exhibitions The Way We Are 2.0 and 3.0 can be experienced via 360-degree virtual tours, where they are accompanied by additional information: To the virtual showroom

Artists' Bar in the Exhibition

Mel Chin & GALA Committee, Melrose Place / Shooters Bar, 1996, Sammlung Gaby und Wilhelm Schürmann, Photo: Tobias Hübel
Mel Chin & GALA Committee, Melrose Place / Shooters Bar, 1996 (Detail), Sammlung Gaby und Wilhelm Schürmann, Photo: Tobias Hübel

The Shooter’s Bar – an artists’ bar in the Weserburg. The bar, a former movie set, was an important venue within the U.S. television series Melrose Place, which was extremely popular in the 1990s. The work of Mel Chin & GALA Committee includes the design of the bar as well as the bottles displayed on the shelves behind it and numerous, other props.

The bar was donated by the collector couple Gaby and Wilhelm Schürmann to the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst and the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach and will be permanently installed in the Weserburg for the next few years. There it will not only be a place to reflect on the fusions of pop culture, political protest, and visual art, but will also be used as an actual bar, for example as a meeting place for a drink after events.

More background info:

In the Name of the Place was an extensive collaborative project that Mel Chin realized with the student collective GALA Committee between 1995 and 1997. For this project, the artists infiltrated works with socio-critical content in the form of props into seasons 4 and 5 of the US television series Melrose Place, as a kind of subversive product placement. The authors and producers of Melrose Place were privy to the enterprise, so that the planned series plot and artistic infiltration could go hand in hand. After the seasons were completed, the works were auctioned off at Sotheby’s. The proceeds went to educational projects. The proceeds went to educational projects in the USA. The Weserburg is showing a small but fine selection from the total of around 150 artistic props that found their way into the series.

Book guided tours

Kader Attia, Le Corps Reconstruit 9, 2014, Sammlung Wemhöner © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Our trained staff will guide you through the exhibition, on request also on special topics, in German and English.

1. Highlights of the Exhibition

85 Euro plus admission
Maximum 25 persons per guided tour (50 minutes)
Registration is required!

2. Shooters Tour

Ideal for groups and birthdays, with the club, the company or just with friends. The Shooters Tour starts in an exhibition of your choice! After an entertaining guided tour you will go to our Shooter’s Bar, where you will learn exciting stories about the bar while having a cocktail and have enough time to talk together. The bar, a former movie set, was an important venue within the U.S. television series Melrose Place, which was extremely popular in the 1990s. The work of Mel Chin & GALA Committee includes the design of the bar as well as the bottles displayed on the shelves behind it and numerous other props.

85 Euro plus 15 Euro/p.p. (entrance fee and cocktail)
5 to max. 20 persons (guided tour 40 minutes / total 90 minutes)
Registration is required!

Information and booking inquiries

Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst
Teerhof 20, 28199 Bremen

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
+49 (0)421 59839-0

Offerings for schools

Photo: Lukas Klose

Various guided tours with and without a practical component are offered for school classes, with thematic focuses on request:

60 minutes
90 minutes with practical part

1. Discovery Tour: Highlights of the Exhibition

In an exciting juxtaposition of painting, photography, object and installation art, students can experience contemporary art and together try out a multi-perspective view of themes such as Crazy Everyday Life, Images of Germany or Cultural Identities.

Overview tour for primary, secondary I and secondary II: 60 minutes

2. Further topics will be announced shortly

Information and booking inquiries

Weserburg Museum of Modern Art
Teerhof 20, 28199 Bremen

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
+49 (0)421 59839-0