Okwui Enwezor is disputing allegations of financial mismanagement during his tenure as artistic director at Munich’s Haus der Kunst.
Munich’s Haus der Kunst cited “a difficult financial situation stemming from management errors of the past,” in a press release earlier this month announcing the cancelation of an upcoming Joan Jonas exhibition and the postponement of a show by Theaster Gates. Haus der Kunst commercial director Bernhard Spies claims that the exhibitions former artistic director Okwui Enwezor scheduled exceeded what was feasible for the museum’s budget; Enwezor stepped down in June for health reasons.
As Spies told The Art Newspaper:
Mr Enwezor was ill for the past two years, and there were management mistakes made before and after. It was a long process. For a long time, expenditure exceeded income, and, at some point, that is no good. The [state-provided] subsidy is enough to maintain the house, to pay the staff, and to have regular exhibitions. It is not enough to have a program like the one planned for this year.
The state of Bavaria increased its subsidy of the Haus der Kunst’s program to €4,400,000 ($5,000,000) this year, up from €3,200,000 ($3,660,000) in 2017, but Spies noted that this increase was still not enough to cover recent expenditures. He noted that the museum’s previous artistic director, Chris Dercon, left it with €1,500,000 ($1,715,000) in capital, and that the institution now has a €500,000 ($572,000) deficit.
Enwezor has vigorously defended his track record, telling The Art Newspaper that the museum was in a financially stable place when he left its day-to-day operations in late 2017.
“There was nothing wrong with the finances of Haus der Kunst up to the end of 2017,” he said, adding, “I am shocked but not surprised that the enormous amount of work I did in Munich with a lot of sacrifice on a lot of levels should be besmirched.”
Spies said he aims to right Haus der Kunst’s finances this year. He also noted that the institution’s planned €150,000,000 ($171,500,000) renovation, scheduled to begin in 2020, will not be affected because most of the funding is being provided directly by Bavaria’s state government.