Design Museum “Die Neue Sammlung” An interview with the director Angelika Nollert

Munich’s new design expert: Angelika Nollert, designated head of the Neuen Sammlung.
Munich’s new design expert: Angelika Nollert, designated head of the Neuen Sammlung. | Photo (detail): Neues Museum, Anna Seibel

She is the designated custodian of the world’s most extensive design collection with some 100,000 design pieces. Goethe.de was keen to hear about the direction in which the design museum Die Neue Sammlung will be heading under the auspices of design expert Angelika Nollert (*1966). We talked to her on this occasion at her new workplace in Munich.

EXHIBITION “TOM Vack. DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY”, AUTUMN / WINTER 2014/15, Broken Egg Lamp, Design Ingo Maurer, 1996 EXHIBITION “TOM Vack. DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY”, AUTUMN / WINTER 2014/15, Broken Egg Lamp, Design Ingo Maurer, 1996

Were you surprised to be appointed director of Die Neue Sammlung?


I was absolutely delighted. For the past seven years I have been in charge of a museum for art and design; it is this double expertise, among other things, that qualifies me in particular for my new position.

DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Paternoster, Ron Arad and photographic works by Annelies Strba DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Paternoster, Ron Arad and photographic works by Annelies Strba | Photo: Tom Vack Your predecessor, Florian Hufnagl, gave the collection a distinct identity. Do you see this as an incentive or a burden?

I am greatly honoured to follow Florian Hufnagel. The outstanding collection and the mission in Munich harbour so many opportunities that I still see further potential for developments.

Have you managed to gain an overview of this huge archive of the modern age?

Through the intensive cooperation over recent years I feel that I have already gained an insight into the collection. I am, of course, not yet familiar with all 100,000 or so inventory numbers.

DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Design Vision – Entrance wall DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Design Vision – Entrance wall | Photo: Rainer Viertlböck The Bavarian Minister of the Arts, Ludwig Spaenle, indicated that he hoped you would intensify the cooperation with the other collections of the Pinakothek der Moderne – with the Sammlung Moderne Kunst, for example, or the Architekturmuseum. What is your view on this?

DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Design Vision DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Munich, Design Vision | Photo: Tom Vack My previous job involved a great deal of interdisciplinary work. I think that the four related disciplines housed here under one roof are bound to cooperate in concert with each other on a regular basis. For the Pinakothek der Moderne this wonderful and absolutely unique situation should definitely lead to an exceptional and symbiotic programming.

Your new mission covers two fields of responsibility: on the one hand the topic of consistency concerning the collection management policy, and on the other hand the short-term projects such as exhibitions. Where will your focus be?

Hubertus von Skal, Brooch “Fly on Fly Screen”, 1967, on permanent loan to the Danner-Stiftung, Munich Hubertus von Skal, Brooch “Fly on Fly Screen”, 1967, on permanent loan to the Danner-Stiftung, Munich | Photo: Die Neue Sammlung, Alexander Laurenzo I do not consider collection and exhibition topics as being opposites, but rather they are both integral and complementary elements of a museum. In this respect I want to look into how a collection can be activated or brought to life, and how an exhibition can be carried over into the collection. How can we create something new from the traditional collection and exhibition categories?

What criteria will you be using to select future objects for the collection?

Specific objects demand specific criteria. These include in particular: quality, originality, historical importance, phenomenological content, contemporary relevance, context of the collection.

In a nutshell: What makes a good design?

Danner-Rotunde, Space for Jewelry Danner-Rotunde, Space for Jewelry | © Stefan Müller-Naumann A good idea combined with a good shape and a high level of functionality. Good design can, however, open up visions even without initial functionality.

How would you assess design in Germany today? Does it have sufficient potential to maintain international success in the future?

Germany is considered a very interesting design scene with highly qualified and internationally renowned artists. There is plenty of development potential here.

The programme of Die Neue Sammlung for 2014 was finalised before your appointment as director. It includes, for instance, a big show on the design photographer Tom Vack this autumn. Do you have any concrete plans for the period afterwards?

DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Paternoster, Ron Arad and photographic works by Annelies Strba DIE NEUE SAMMLUNG, Paternoster, Ron Arad and photographic works by Annelies Strba | Photo: Rainer Viertlböck Yes I do. Concrete ideas and concepts both for exhibitions and for presentations.

... but you are not going to tell us about them yet?

No, that would be ahead of time. I look forward to discussing these plans with the curators.

Munich is considered Germany’s design capital and is home to protagonists such as Konstantin Grcic, Stefan Diez and Clemens Weisshaar. Will we, for instance, soon be seeing a big Grcic exhibition in Die Neue Sammlung, instead of in Paris, Chicago or Weil am Rhein?

Of course I am also very interested in Munich as a centre for design and in the design artists living here. In my previous work one of my strengths was that I always fostered a strong relationship with the respective locations.

Last, not least... which design piece is your personal favourite?

I have a great love for design, but surely you are not expecting me to reduce this admiration to a single, favourite item?