The Dortmunder Kunstverein e.V. was founded in 1984 by civic initiative as a non-profit association for the promotion and mediation of contemporary art in Dortmund. Since 2014, it has been located in the immediate vicinity of the Dortmunder U - Zentrum für Kunst und Kreativität, thus helping to strengthen this cultural center for contemporary art in Dortmund.
Curating four to six solo and group exhibitions of current national as well as international recognition, the Kunstverein prides itself as a place of artistic exchange and social understanding. Complemented by a diverse programme of public talks with artists and experts, performances, guided tours, films, lectures, and publications, the Kunstverein offers an open platform for the discussion of relevant mindsets and issues within the contemporary art scene.
In the 1980s and 90s, the Kunstverein presented solo exhibitions by renowned artists such as Hanne Darboven, Joseph Beuys, Roman Signer, Richard Serra, and Dortmund-born Martin Kippenberger at its changing locations. Today, our program focuses increasingly on young projects in contemporary art that have not yet been established. Due to the program, the institution has been nominated twice in recent years, both in 2019, 2020 and 2022, for the prestigious ADKV-ART COLOGNE Prize for Kunstvereine. The prize acknowledges institutions that stand out for their particularly innovative programming and outreach work.
The Kunstverein is a public, member-based institution which facilitates a natural and comprehensive participation in artistic production. The model enables direct and active contemporaneity with artists and other art enthusiasts, promoting a confrontation and familiarization with relevant discourses on artistic and social topics. The Kunstverein organizes special activities for its members such as insights into exhibition construction, studio visits to young artists in the Ruhr and Rhineland, day excursions, and international trips to exhibitions and biennials.
The Kunstverein is involved in regional projects through collaborations with the TU Dortmund in the context of the event series Topos der Fläche and the exhibition project Emerging Artists - Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst aus Dortmund. It is also a member of a Kunstvereine network. Through these activities, the Dortmunder Kunstverein aims to promote a comprehensive outreach for Kunstvereine, strengthening their role as local institutions. Through additional participation in juries and commissions, the team of the Kunstverein acts as an important member in the regional, national, and international cultural scene.
Since May 2014, the Dortmunder Kunstverein has been located in the former administration building of the beverage company Brau und Brunnen AG, which was added from 2005 to 2007 on the site of today's Dortmunder U, adjacent to the existing building complex. The Dortmunder U, also known as the U Tower, was built in 1926/27 as the fermentation and storage cellar of the Union Brewery by Dortmund engineer and architect Emil Moog. After the brewery relocated in 1994, the city acquired the site in 2007 and had the previously vacant U-building converted into a center for art and creativity as a lighthouse project of the European Capital of Culture 2010.
Photo: Roland Baege