Art can make an incredible difference. Not only long queues in front of museum entrances. Currently, the complete works of Rosemarie Trockel can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art (MMK) of the city of Frankfurt. A feast for the eyes with socio-political aspirations, just like many of the exhibitions Susanne Pfeffer has curated since she became director of the MMK in 2018. Anyone who visits Cameron Rowland's "Amt 45i" in the tower of the MMK will not see much concrete – but will be subjected to decolonization in spirit, the explosive power of which, presumably, is reflected in a changed view of each individual on art, its price and its value.
The fact that exhibitions such as "Amt 45i" are integrated into the current discourses of art in an almost exemplary manner has earned Pfeffer the reputation of an internationally highly respected curator. But the "Amt 45i" itself – the artist Rowland has simply taken the MMK serial number as the municipal sub-office as the title of his exhibition – this municipal operation obviously does not run smoothly in a blatant way.
Employees of the MMK speak of unacceptable conditions, and the very fact that it is not possible to report in detail what these consist of, because no one who has experienced the experiences of "not being heard" and fear for the workplace wants to be recognized, should have shown that delegating mediation will probably not be enough.
Even before complaints from employees became known in May 2022 through research by the F.A.Z., great dissatisfaction was heard. So there have been warning signs. And: It is the duty of care of the employer, head of culture Ina Hartwig (SPD), to provide permanent remedy. A highly gifted curator whose name adorns the city's culture and whose splendour also falls on the head of the cultural department, which is why it is often emphasized that the appointment was made at her "request", does not necessarily have to be a highly talented personnel and museum manager.
The MMK, which is already sparsely staffed, has four vacancies, including the lack of deputy management. Previous museum directors have shown how strengths and tasks can be distributed in such a way that work can be done for the benefit of the house.
It is now up to the head of the department to take on a museum that does not only live from curation: In 2017, the MMK still had 120,000 visitors, now there are 83,000. Admittedly, good museum work should not only focus on visitor numbers. But the fact that these figures, despite the highly topical exhibitions, also indicate that fields of work lie fallow in the MMK, in a building that was once one of the liveliest in the city: This should also give the head of department food for thought.