GAM - Global Art and the Museum

Cover of the publication »Contemporary Art and the Museum«

The term globalization has now become a catchword on everyone’s lips. The question as to its impact on contemporary art and institutions, however, still remains unaccounted for. It was with this in view that Peter Weibel and Hans Belting initiated the project GAM – Global Art and the Museum at the ZKM, in 2006; the aim was to launch an examination of a process which brought about the transformation of art production, extended to a global level, as well as the transformation of art museums. The aim was to awaken a consciousness of this transformation which globalization signified for the emergence of new art worlds. The point of departure for this investigation was the art museum in its previous manifestation as MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) that had experienced a founding boom, while the biennales spread a new network of art forms around the globe.

Whereas, for the most part, museum theory which analyses all types of museum has still remained within a western context, GAM by contrast, focused its attention on the new museum practices, which have been emerging over the last two decades beyond “Euramerica” (John Clark). Two international conferences in 2006 and 2007 brought together the representatives of museums; the theme was the challenges to the art museum in the age of globalization. This was followed by a series of workshops in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, which took place in Sao Paulo, New Delhi and Hong Kong, and which discussed the GAM project in a locally different context. In Brazil the global turn in contemporary art collections was discussed, in India, the role of art history, and in Hong Kong the emergence of new regions of art. The issue was subsequently deepened at the ZKM by way of a grant program sponsored by the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation. The program began with a ten-day seminar in which scholarship holders from a total of ten countries discussed their experiences with the status of the museum landscape, and the transformation of art practice. The program was continued under the heading “Global Studies”: here, conferences were held at which young scholars and researchers from German-speaking countries presented their research projects in which very similar phenomena found in contemporary art were examined from different specialist perspectives.

The exhibition »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989« (2011/12) represented a first assessment of GAM. In 2013 the Karlsruhe exhibition was opened in Berlin, at the Academy of Arts in a different format and under the title »Nothing to Declare?«. In 2014, the conference »Biennials: Prospect and Perspectives« took place in Karlsruhe.

Text: Andrea Buddensieg




      The activities and results of GAM have been published on its website ( in various columns since 2008; these provide a forum for invited authors as well as presenting the museum of the month. 
 2007    Peter Weibel, Andrea Buddensieg (Ed.), »Contemporary Art and the Museum. A Global Perspective«Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern
 2009    Hans Belting, Andrea Buddensieg (Ed.), »The Global Art World. Audiences, Markets and Museums«Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern
 2011    Hans Belting, Jacob Birken, Andrea Buddensieg and Peter Weibel (Ed.), »Global Studies. Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture«Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern
 2011    »The Global Contemporary. Kunstwelten nach 1989«, exhib. brochureZKM | Center for Art and Media
 2013    »The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds«, exhib. catalogThe MIT Press, Cambridge/Mass.
 2015    Andrea Buddensieg, Elke aus dem Moore, Peter Weibel (Ed.), »Biennials: Prospect and Perspectives«, e-paperZKM | Center for Art and Media


 2006     »The Global Challenge of Art Museums I«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2007    »The Global Challenge of Art Museums II: Where is Art Contemporary?«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2009    »Global Art and the Museum. Globalization and the Art Market«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2010    »Global Studies: Kunst und visuelle Medien heute«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2011    »Curating in Asia«ZKM, Karlsruhe
      »The Global Contemporary: Kunstwelten nach 1989«ZKM, Karlsruhe
      »Global Studies 2011. Die Frage nach dem Kunstbegriff«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2014    »Biennials: Prospect and Perspectives«ZKM, Karlsruhe


 2011    »The Global Contemporary. Kunstwelten nach 1989«ZKM, Karlsruhe
 2013    »Nothing to Declare? Weltkarten der Kunst nach '89«Akademie der Künste, Berlin
Project website
Organization / Institution

Hubert Burda Foundation, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung