New European Bauhaus – an interview with Merete Sanderhoff
Can you tell us about your role at the Statens Museum for Kunst?
I am so lucky to be working as a bridge builder between Denmark’s largest art collection and the public – not just in my own country, but all over the world. Since 2008, our strategy has been “to be a catalyst for user creativity”. We try to achieve this ambition by making the digital collection radically open and encouraging active reuse by designers and artists, schoolchildren and young people, citizen scientists and many more. It was essential for us to implement clear and user-friendly open license so people know they can freely use art. Our collection is part of the Commons, and we all have shared rights to it.
How is the new European Bauhaus relevant to your work?
To my knowledge, this is the first time that we have seen such a clear and compelling appeal to the cultural sector to contribute to a more sustainable future. Too often, art and culture are seen as an add-on once the basic infrastructure of society has been put in place – like the decorative icing on the cake. In the new European Bauhaus, art and culture are fundamental to building truly livable societies where we take better care of nature and each other, because – to quote Elizabeth Holstein, a young Danish entrepreneur who inspires me a lot – “Creativity is fundamentally problem solving… The more you let your creativity guide you, the greater your ability to free yourself from what may seem like a locked-in situation. This is exactly why we made our collection free. of digital cultural heritage: so that it can be a resource in the innovative and creative hands of the public.
What does the new European Bauhaus mean to you?
A chance for the cultural sector, in the broadest sense of the term, to show that art and culture – and the liberating and participatory forces inherent in their digitalization – are the key to building sustainable societies not only of a technical point of view, but also at the human level. The Bauhaus legacy is a collaboration across borders, both where the word was born, in the workshops of the cathedrals of medieval Europe, and in the art and design movement of the 20th century: beyond disciplinary, national and cultural boundaries. This is exactly the mindset needed to tackle the climate challenges we all face. We need everyone to contribute and be taken seriously, from science and technology experts to citizen scientists, from professional designers and artists to mainstream creatives, from academics to students. The digital cultural heritage sector has crucial experience in bringing these people together to innovate.