The tasks of the curator of a corporate collection, which combines a strong presence within the company and conceptually determined public appearances, became increasingly differentiated over the course of the 1990s. This development can best be described with the concepts of structure, responsibility and long-term thinking. What was once a matter of ‘looking after’ art collection holdings has developed into the systematic development of structures within these collections. The responsibility for a company is reflected in its responsible and committed approach to cultural engagement. Freed from the pressure of daily ‘price fluctuations’, questions of added value and advertising campaigns – as an ideal perspective – corporate collections can concentrate on setting standards by pursuing long-term objectives.
Independent of the prejudices about corporate art collections that have persisted for decades, which can be summed up as the suspected exploitation of artistic production by capital, a view has been gaining ground that localizes committed, informed corporate engagement in art between the activities and programmes of Kunstvereine and museums: the acquisitions policy and exhibition programming of a corporate collection can take its bearings from the current spectrum of art without having to follow the latest trends; at the same time, it can (and indeed must) establish art-historically grounded connections without being hindered by the high staffing levels and administrative apparatus of a large museum. To put it another way, I see increasing opportunities and obligations for the curatorial practice of corporate collections in combining the courageous and occasionally risky work carried out in the field of contemporary art with its art-historically founded incorporation into broader contexts and lines of development.
The demands made of curators of corporate collections in terms of individual professional competence have grown in every area of their work: in the case of the Daimler Art Collection, the conceptual direction and management of scholarly research, collecting activities, archiving, preparing documentation, publications and exhibitions, website management and art education is the responsibility of a single person and is implemented by a small team of permanent employees and freelancers. All of those involved must possess a wide range of knowledge and skills, as specialization in a narrow sense is not relevant in this context.
(Renate Wiehager, 2010)