The Kunstverein Hannover was founded in 1832—it is now one of the oldest and most prestigious of the circa 300 German Kunstvereins—by a group of dedicated citizens to, as the first bylaws of the Kunstverein stated, “promote the visual arts by broadening the participation in the same and by encouraging and supporting artists.”
Even today, civic dedication forms the backbone of the Kunstverein Hannover with its unsalaried executive board and advisory council elected by the members as well as through the dedication of private sponsors and volunteers. The circa 1,450—and rising—members firmly anchor the Kunstverein in the cultural scene in Hannover and Lower Saxony.
The association has remained true to its mission and founding purpose for 180 years, even though one would now designate these as the “exhibition, promotion and conveyance of contemporary art. However, the form and scope of the Kunstverein’s program has changed. It has developed in the meanwhile into an internationally active and heeded exhibition venue! The exhibitions and publications of the Kunstverein Hannover make up an essential contribution to the development of international contemporary art. The four to six solo and group shows put on annually with a young generation of artists are largely conceived especially for the galleries of the Kunstverein. Current international developments are shown in monographic presentations or thematic contexts. The Kunstverein Hannover has been committed to the regional art scene from the beginning. The traditional “Fall Exhibition” taking place every two years thus draws attention to the art scene in Lower Saxony and Bremen.
The exhibitions of the Kunstverein Hannover have also been influenced by its spaces in the Künstlerhaus Hannover in the center of Hannover, where it has been located since 1856. They were conceived especially for the association during the construction of the Künstlerhaus in 1856 and have been admired by visitors and artists from around the world. The retention of the exhibition spaces with the two characteristic skylight galleries is unique in Germany.
The activities and offerings surrounding the exhibitions of the Kunstverein have grown immensely over the past 180 years. A grant program was added to the area of artist advancement in the early 1980s: For 25 years, the Kunstverein Hannover has likewise been active in promoting contemporary Lower Saxon art with the “Prize of the Kunstverein – Studio Grant Villa Minimo.” The prize awarded every two years encompasses a two-year and a two one-year studio grants in the studio house of the Kunstverein, the “Villa Minimo,” which is accompanied by an exhibition in the Kunstverein and a publication.
Particularly the aspect of education has been continuously broadened in recent years. The program targets occasional visitors as well as specialists. Diverse offerings aimed at promoting an understanding of contemporary art, artistic questions and subject matters to a wide audience accompany the exhibitions.
Alongside the regular guided tours, the lunchtime “Feast for the Eyes” program or the “Talking Labels” activities in which members of the Kunstverein staff are available for discussions and questions about individual pieces in the exhibition, thematically geared lectures, film programs or discussions offer an introduction to an active occupation with art.
With its “Kunstkontakte” program, the Kunstverein moreover provides a wide range of activities devoted especially to the artistic sensibilisation of children, school classes and young people. Workshops, the young Art Club »Kunststoff« are likewise sustainably addresses for the young cultural audience over and above the school projects. And the youngest newcomers from the age of 5 can like experience the world of art with an artist in conjunction with the “Art Diving Courses.”
The Kunstverein Hannover offers something for everyone in order to discover and understand art.