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Lunds konsthall was opened to the public in 1957, one year before Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Louisiana art museum in Humlebæk, Denmark.
Ever since the inaugural exhibition, titled ‘Swedish Contemporary Art’, Lunds konsthall has focused on presenting and mediating contemporary art. Its exhibitions have always been internationally oriented but at the same time rooted in local sensitivities, just like the university city of Lund itself.
Offering free entrance and being centrally located at Mårtenstorget, one of the city’s main squares, Lunds konsthall attracts some 70,000 visitors every year.
Lunds konsthall’s characteristically elegant yet robust architecture is reminiscent of buildings dedicated to industry and science. It was authored by architect Klas Anselm (1914–80), based in Lund himself, who also designed Lund University’s Faculty of Engineering, Lund City Hall and Malmö Konsthall.
The exhibition space comprises some 650 square metres in a sequence of larger and smaller rooms on two floors. Two spacious halls with eleven-metre-high ceilings are connected through a number of smaller galleries in an open-plan solution encircling an open atrium, paved with flagstones and sometimes also used as an exhibition space.
Lund is part of an expansive and futures-oriented region with major cities on both sides of the Sound, not least Copenhagen and Malmö. The university city boasts a highly educated population, a wide offer of cultural activities and a distinguished history as part of both Denmark and Sweden. This is a dense and interesting environment for contemporary culture.
In Lund the Lutheran Church of Sweden is also an active player in the contemporary art scene. Lunds konsthall regularly collaborates with both the university and the cathedral, as well as with other important exhibition venues in the city, such as Skissernas Museum, Galleri Aura and the open-air museum Kulturen i Lund.
Lunds konsthall shall be a venue where contemporary art is seen and discussed. All its activities shall be informed by consistent experimentation. Its programming shall help create and reflect the diversity that ought to characterise the art scene as a whole.
The ambition is to be a significant player within the international contemporary art world. Therefore Lunds konsthall aims at maintaining high professional standards in its two main areas of activity: exhibitions and public programmes. Another aim is to create possibilities for the production of new artwork and for research.
In this context, a certain level of complexity is inevitable, even desirable. Contemporary art presupposes and promotes risk-taking, which in turn fosters the ability to continuously question and reshape reality that is a necessary competence in today’s society.
Four or five exhibitions are mounted each year. These are usually conceived and realised by Lunds konsthall itself, but in some cases they are coproduced with other institutions, either as one-off bilateral collaborations or as part of a multi-venue tour. Lunds konsthall also participates in various international and regional collaborative networks. Moreover, exhibitions are commissioned from external curators, to make different voices heard.
Unlike a museum, a kunsthalle works predominantly with living artists and regularly shows new work. Lunds konsthall showcases established artists as well as those who are less well known but promising or ripe for rediscovery.
The exhibition programme is planned at least one year in advance, so that invited artists and other collaboration partners may be offered good working conditions.
Within Swedish public administration, there is a tradition dating from the 1930s, of allocating one percent of the cost of building or renovating public facilities to the investment in public art. The City of Lund has followed this principle for several decades. Lunds konst is the name given to public art in the city and it is managed by Lunds konsthall who is in charge of commissioning and administering new projects and preserving existing ones. Public art works are produced for strategically selected locations in the city, which are selected together with representatives from the Technical Services Department and the Spatial Planning Department. An expert group consisting of the Director of Lunds konsthall, the Curator for Public Art, the Director of the Museum of Sketches and a representative from the local art scene selects the artist to be invited to work on new public art commissions. The selected artist presents a sketch for the artwork that then needs to be approved before the work is produced. Lunds konsthall is also in charge of managing the City of Lund Art Collection. New acquisitions to the collection are decided by Lunds konsthall staff under the guidance of Lunds konsthall Director.
Lunds konsthall shall be in constant dialogue with its visitors and its programming shall be characterised by generosity, transparency and clarity. Its activities shall be accessible to various categories of visitors: those well-versed in contemporary art and those with less experience of encountering artistic expression.
This happens through mediation, in a wide understanding of the term that includes the meaningful spatial organisation of exhibitions, accompanying printed catalogues with clearly formulated and accessible texts, public guided tours, filmed interviews with exhibiting artists and various forms of public conversations.
Discursive events are continuously organised in collaboration with specialists from various disciplines, not least from the academic world.