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Cooperation with the Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen

In addition to the possibility of suggesting a research project in cooperation with an institution of their own choice, applicants are also welcome to apply with a project based on an existing cooperation with the Museum for Contemporary Art Siegen (MGKSiegen).

Potential doctoral projects in cooperation with MGKSiegen could address the following subjects: “Contemporary Collecting”.

Collections in museums preserve the past and pass it on for the future. This is a summary of the voluntary commitment formulated by the International Council of Museums. The museum practice of collecting, however, is effective in transferring this relationship between past and future into the present. Collecting does not only mean deciding which pieces from the past should be preserved for the future. Museums capture cultural knowledge and identities bound to it in their collections. They not only reproduce traditions, but also play a decisive role in the selection, categorisation, archiving and presentation of cultural objects and are thus involved in the construction of history. In view of global social and cultural-political developments, museums today more than ever are faced with the task of rethinking established collection concepts and museum practices.

In particular, the relationship between past, present and future must be questioned in an institution that has made collecting contemporary art its mission. Collections are constantly in motion. The collections arise in the consciousness of always following the "contemporary of the present". They can neither be built upon the canon of an established past, nor are the artistic processes ever complete. Collecting contemporary art means not only asking about the relevance of current art (developments), but also searching for the gaps in the past/within one's own collections and looking for the future of museum practice in the present.

Two focal points in particular lend themselves to possible doctoral projects in which historical-theoretical research can be compared with the practical implementation in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Siegen. 

  1. Since the 1960s, artists have increasingly taken on question of collecting and archiving as the subject of their own artistic work. With ephemeral forms of art, they have undermined the permanence of the collection from the outset. Considering general institutional critique, artists revealed institutional conditions and power structures. And finally, they developed artistic practices of archiving and collecting in order to expand the reception framework and discourse within art. 
  2. Since the 1930s, and increasingly since the 1980s, museums have been established that have made collecting contemporary art their mission. This has meant not only developing and adapting practices of collecting, archiving and restoration, but also revising the self-image of the institution museum and its permanent collections/contents. 

Projects can refer to exemplary groups of works from the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Together with the museum, it is also possible to consider questions of collection conception, which deal with questions of collecting contemporary art and the still short history of this practice. Comparative analyses of different institutions and collecting practices are likewise a possiblity. 

Contact person and contact: 

Prof. Dr. Christian Spies, Institute of Art History at the University of Cologne/Curator of the Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection at the MGKSiegen

Thomas Thiel, Director MGKSiegen


The partner institution:

The Museum for Contemporary Art Siegen (MGKSiegen) is an internationally oriented art museum and was opened in 2001. With its exhibition programme, its collection and its wide ranging educational programme, the museum constantly offers its visitors* new perspectives on contemporary art and its history. The MGKSiegen sees itself as an open museum, which arouses enthusiasm for the art production of our time and also provides innovative impulses in research. As an important cultural beacon in the region of South Westphalia, closely linked to the city and the university, the museum is firmly anchored in the regional cultural life. In 2011 the Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen received the award "Museum of the Year" from the International Association of Art Critics AICA. 

Further information is available at:


In your research proposal, please formulate your key research question on the above-mentioned topic area and explain to what extent the topic requires a profession oriented focus. Please also comment on the social and scientific relevance of your research.

Contact (Mercator scholarship):
Dr. Andrea Dauber

For the confirmation letter of the proposed non-academic institution (to be submitted by 24.05.2022) please contact Mr Thomas Thiel, Director