Universalmuseum Joanneum GmbH

Barbara Steiner is the new Director of the Kunsthaus Graz


Barbara Steiner was presented as the new Director of the Kunsthaus Graz today. She won this position in competition with 32 other applicants.


Of the 32 applicants (21 from abroad, 11 from Austria), seven candidates were invited to hearings by the Hearings Commission – consisting of Enrico Lunghi (Director MUDAM, Luxembourg), Heike Munder (Director Migros Museum, Zurich), Stella Rollig (Director Lentos, Linz), Chairman of the UMJ Advisory Board, Dr. Franz Marhold, President of the UMJ Curatorium, Prof. Kurt Jungwirth and UMJ Managing Director Dr. Wolfgang Muchitsch. Based on the recommendation of the Hearing Commission, the owners of the Universalmuseum Joanneum, the Province of Styria and the City of Graz, have selected Barbara Steiner as the new head of the Kunsthaus. Barbara Steiner will initially take over the running of the Kunsthaus Graz for five years, beginning her task as of July 1st, 2016.

Barbara Steiner,

New Director of the Kunsthaus Graz, Photo: Universalmuseum Joanneum/N. Lackner

Barbara Steiner: ‘I look forward to working together with the team at the Universalmuseum Joanneum and in particular with that at the Kunsthaus Graz. In Graz there is a fantastic, intercultural heritage with potential and a region that is unbelievably exciting.’

State Cultural Counsellor Christian Buchmann: ‘In Barbara Steiner the Kunsthaus is getting a director who, with her international experience and knowledge of the domestic art and culture scene, is best equipped to give the institution greater international reach in line with its cultural-political mission on the one hand, and also to integrate the domestic scene more closely into the programme on the other. I wish her all the best for her new job.’


State Cultural Counsellor Lisa Rücker: ‘Based on the discussion initiated in 2014 concerning the future direction of the institution, the Kunsthaus Graz under the interim leadership of Katrin Bucher Trantow has properly picked up speed in recent months. Barbara Steiner was able to very convincingly convey how to build on this, and to continue along the same path.’


Joanneum Director Wolfgang Muchitsch: ‘I am exceptionally happy to have found in Barbara Steiner a personality who glows with enthusiasm for the Kunsthaus Graz and its issues. In the hearings we could already sense that she will integrate very positively into the team and also that she considers other areas of the Joanneum in her programming.’

About Barbara Steiner

Dr. Barbara Steiner (* 1964 in Dörfles, AT) is an art historian, freelance curator, author and publisher. She studied art history at the University of Vienna, completing post-graduate studies in Museum and Exhibition Curators at the State Academy for Lower Austria in Krems.


In the 1990s Steiner ran the Art Associations (Kunstvereine) in Ludwigsburg and Wolfsburg, where she curated exhibitions with Liam Gillick, Angela Bulloch, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Karen Kilimnik, among others. From 2001 to 2011 Steiner was Director of the Foundation Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig (GfZK), where she co-curated solo exhibitions with Jun Yang, Christine Hill, Deimantas Narcevicius and the Atelier Le Balto, as well as group exhibitions such as Performative Architektur, The future is not what it used to be and Schrumpfende Städte. From 2012 to 2013 Steiner took over the artistic direction of the transnational project Europe (to the power of) n, a series of exhibitions of the Goethe Institute, which took place in London, Minsk, Łódź, Istanbul, Oslo, Novi Sad, Brussels, San Sebastián, Beijing and Taipei.


In 2014 Steiner began the project Freunde und Komplizen in Vienna’s Künstlerhaus, which was continued in the VMKÖ (2015/16) und der Secession (2016/17). This asks how from the perspective of art one can respond to economic processes, and also how a participant in the field of art can act in business without losing sight of a sense of community and the common good.


In academic teaching Barbara Steiner has also gathered a wide experience: since 2015 she has been deputy professor for Cultures of the Curatorial at the University for Graphics and Book Art in Leipzig; previously she was in charge of courses at the University of Linz, the University of Art Braunschweig, the Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen and the University for Applied Art in Vienna.


Besides monographs of artists including Jorge Pardo, Christine Hill, Superflex, Liam Gillick or Josef Dabernig, Barbara Steiner published a series of theme-related books on topics such as the museum, concepts of space, the relationship between private and public, and on art and the economy, including: Mögliche Museen (with Charles Esche), Cologne 2007; Spaces of Negotiation (with as-if wienberlin), 2010; Das eroberte Museum, 2011; Scenarios about Europe, 2012, and The Europen-Book, 2013. In the same year, in cooperation with BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, TOPOTEK 1 and Superflex, a comprehensive book appeared on Superkilen, which depicts various cultural perspectives, taking as an example the large-scale park in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro.


Barbara Steiner is also very well connected internationally, with good contacts maintained in the countries of eastern Europe above all. She realised the exhibition Collection Reversed: Transfer, Transformation and Ruptures in the Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti (Slovenj Gradec), which is part of the EU-funded project Performing the Museum (Muzej v gibanju) and to which the MSU Zagreb, the Muzej savremene umetnosti Vojvodine in Novi Sad and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona also belong.


We look forward to your reports and will be happy to help you with any enquiries you may have in this regard.


Warm regards

Christoph Pelzl & Anna Fras