Dr. Ralf Beil appointed General Director of Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site

7 April 2020

Portrait Dr. Ralf Beil Januar 2019 III (002).jpg
© Dr. Ralf Beil.

Press Office (Ministry of Education and Culture, Federal State of Saarland, Germany). Published on: 25 March 2020.

The experienced and successful art historian, exhibition curator and museum director Dr. Ralf Beil is to become the new General Director of the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site (WVH). The WVH Supervisory Board confirmed its Chair’s proposal at its meeting today. Dr. Beil will take up office on 1 May 2020. Due to the coronavirus crisis, the committee met via video conference.

WVH Supervisory Board Chair, Minister of Education and Culture Christine Streichert-Clivot explained:

The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site is a unique monument of our industrial history. The ironworks is not just an attraction for visitors from across the globe, it is also a place that creates a sense of identity for many Saarlanders. At the same time, it faces great challenges.

For its management, therefore, we have looked for an experienced and strong leadership personality to redesign how the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site is presented, in short - a courageous doer. Challenges include, in particular, strengthening the focus on industrial culture, on the history of the ironworks and on the people who worked here and conveying these to a broad cross-border audience.

In order to do this, new approaches need to be developed. This requires experience, courage and the willingness to think big. Ralf Beil has already proven convincingly that he is able to do just that. It will certainly not always be easy, but that is not what I expect of the new Managing Director – quite the contrary. He has designed and implemented major exhibitions, motivated people and, not least, raised sponsorship money.”

Dr. Ralf Beil, designated WVH Managing Director, explained:

“The history of Saarland is inseparably linked to the coal and steel industry. This industry has played a prominent role in the lives of many Saarlanders to date – the end of coal mining on the Saar has not changed this.

The past and present of work and leisure, man and machine, individual and society as well as nature and technology are combined in an exemplary manner at the former ironworks and current Centre for Art and Industrial Culture. Völklinger Hütte is a great space providing opportunities for fascinating art and cultural projects beyond the mainstream. In the future, I would like to broaden the discussion with realities and visions of our living environment.

In my work as General Director, I see five central areas of activity: cross-generational exhibitions and events covering the whole world cultural heritage site; an intensive festival culture; in-depth history of the ironworks; regional as well as international networking of industrial culture; and a bright, new and constantly changing laboratory of the future. Unlike most other sites, Völklinger Hütte is ideally suited to looking at our past and present and future – taking on the character of a laboratory in terms of sustainable prospects for work and life. How the working environment and life will look in the industrial society of the future is a very topical question, particularly for Saarland, as it is currently going through another structural change.”

Short biography of Dr. Ralf Beil:

Dr. Ralf Beil, born in 1965 in Kobe/Japan, studied art history, German studies and philosophy in Freiburg im Breisgau and Paris, Maîtrise d'histoire de l'art et d’archéologie at Université Paris-Sorbonne. Doctorate (summa cum laude) on the subject of Lebensmittel als Kunstmaterial. Nahrung für Kopf und Bauch (Food as art material. Food for thought and stomach) at Gesamthochschule Essen. From 1990 to1998 Freelance exhibition curator and art critic for Artefactum, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Kunst-Bulletin, Kunstforum International. 1999 to 2003 Exhibition curator and conservator of the paintings and sculptures collection at Kunstmuseum Bern. 2004/2005 Conservator and exhibition curator for the 20th and 21st Century at Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne. From January 2006 to January 2015 Director of the Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt. Justus Bier Award for Curators 2012. From February 2015 to December 2018 Director of Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. March to June 2019 Artistic adviser for the Hannover European Capital of Culture 2025. Since July 2019 Freelance art historian.

Numerous exhibitions and publications, incl. Ilya Kabakov. 50 Installations (2000), Black Box. Der Schwarzraum in der Kunst (2001), Zeitmaschine. Oder: Das Museum in Bewegung (2002), Künstlerküche. Lebensmittel als Kunstmaterial von Schiele bis Jason Rhoades (2002), Le monde selon François Dubois (2003), Albert Oehlen. Paintings 1980-2004. Self-Portrait at 50 Million Times the Speed of Light (2004), Didier Rittener. Eccentric Society (2005), Mathilda is calling. Erinnerung als Zukunft (2006), Christian Boltanski. Time (2006), Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. The Killing Machine and Other Stories (2007), Andreas Gursky. Architecture (2008), Russland 1900. Kunst und Kultur im Reich des letzten Zaren (2008), Masken. Metamorphosen des Gesichts von Rodin bis Picasso (2009), Nedko Solakov. Emotions (without masks) (2009), Joseph Maria Olbrich 1867-1908. Architekt und Gestalter der frühen Moderne (2010), The Total Artwork in Expressionism. Art, Film, Literature, Theater, Dance, and Architecture 1905-1925 (2010), Serious Games. War – Media – Art (2011), Marcel van Eeden. The Darkest Museum in the World (2011), A House Full of Music. Strategies in Music and Art (2012), Georg Büchner – Revolutionär mit Feder und Skalpell (2013), The Scorpion’s Sting (2014), Dark Mirror. Lateinamerikanische Kunst seit 1968 (2015), Wolfsburg Unlimited. Eine Stadt als Weltlabor (2016), Im Käfig der Freiheit (2016), This Was Tomorrow. Pop Art in Great Britain (2016), Hans Op de Beeck. Out of the Ordinary (2017), Never Ending Stories. The Loop in Art, Film, Architecture, Music, Literature, and Cultural History (2017) and Robert Lebeck.1968 (2018).

Follow this link to the website of the World Cultural Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte: https://www.voelklinger-huette.org