One central institution is the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein. The acknowledgement of culture’s great impact on the deeply lying strata of humanity and society as a whole shapes the position and profile of the Liechtenstein national gallery. The gallery specifically targets topics dealing with the contemporary attitude towards life within Europe. The regional museum also emphasises the cultural wealth of the Rhine Valley region including Eastern Switzerland, the Austrian province of Vorarlberg and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The Kunstmuseum – opened in the year 2000 – also displays works from the Collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein as well as from the State Art Collection – established in 1967 – which, with their works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries, create a chronologic link to the Collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein. The Liechtenstein State Art Collection Foundation was incorporated into the Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum Foundation in 2000. The complete works of the thirteen Arte Povera artists are considered a matchless contribution on the part of the Kunstmuseum.
A plaque listing the names of donors demonstrates the origin of the Kunstmuseum. A group of financially strong patrons of the arts – industrialists, banks, trustees and the national capital of Vaduz – joined forces to build the museum and to donate the land to Liechtenstein. The façade of the monolithic edifice cast seamlessly in black basalt stone and fine-grained Rhine gravel is considered a milestone in concrete art. The architectural clarity lends an urban character to the centre of Vaduz.
The Kunstmuseum exhibitions reflect an international quality: for instance, programmatically with the works of the great representative of abstract art, Otto Freundlich; or thematically, such as when two generations of artists representing the 1960s and the 1990s address the phenomenon of migration. Sometimes the emphasis is on prominent artists such as The Late Work of Andy Warhol; or with a focus on conceptual art and Jochen Gerz’s “Inverted Time”; or 100 modern masterpieces by Paul Klee; or contemporary works such as Fabian Marcaccio’s “From Altered Paintings to Paintants”.
From October to December 2013, the Batliner Collection was exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein under the title: “From Monet to Picasso. The Batliner Collection – Albertina Vienna”. The collection covers a period ranging from important works of Impressionism and Fauvism to German Expressionism and Bauhaus and the Russian avant-garde, from Pablo Picasso to selected works from the latter half of the 20th century. With around 500 works of classical modernism and contemporary art, it is regarded as one of the largest and most important private collections in Europe. The collection was transferred on permanent loan to the Albertina in Vienna in 2007. This collection rounds off a series of exhibitions organised by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein dedicated to private collections housed in Liechtenstein, with the museum giving visitors an overview of the Hilti Art Foundation in 2005, the collection of Veronika and Peter Monauni in 2009, and most recently the collection of the non-profit Mezzanin Foundation for Art in 2011.
The facility housing collective memory in Liechtenstein is the Liechtenstein National Museum. Well-secured in air-conditioned storage facilities, the invaluable originals were locked away for 11 years. In 1992, the original museum building in Vaduz showed evidence of structural damage. In November 2003 it was reopened in its renovated and expanded state: eras and themes conjoin in a unique architectural complex consisting of three buildings: the 500-year-old former National Museum edifice, the 400-year-old Governor’s House and a newly constructed building at the foot of the Castle Mountain. Six leitmotifs on six floors introduce the various aspects of human life. Visitors from the country and the region encounter the roots of their own lives. Since May 2011, the National Museum has offered tours and workshops for children and young people. For this purpose, the Board of Trustees has approved a museum educator position for three years.
The National Museum in Vaduz presents a thematically arranged permanent exhibit featuring the history and culture of the Principality of Liechtenstein as well as rotating exhibits. Branches of the National Museum include the Postal Museum in Vaduz and the Museum of Rural Living House Nr. 12 in the municipality of Schellenberg.
The collections of the Liechtenstein National Museum contain objects from both Liechtenstein and regional history including archaeological artefacts from the Neolithic period to the early Middle Ages, models and reliefs, articles of daily use and examples of materials and furnishings from every epoch, weapons and military objects, Late Gothic rooms, ecclesiastical carvings, a 1612 Lenten cloth, ecclesiastical gold work, coins, medals and military decorations, farming and alpine tools, objects representing the areas of handicrafts, industry, technology, schooling, traditions, farmhouse rooms, graphic arts, cartography and Tibetica (Heinrich Harrer Collection). Since 2003, the National Museum has displayed, in addition to its own natural historical and cultural objects, exhibits from the Natural History Collection of the Principality of Liechtenstein (originally the Collection of Prince Hans von Liechtenstein) regionally focussing on the ornithology, botany, flora and fauna in the Alpine region. Since June 2010, the National Museum has owned the Adulf Peter Goop Collection. This includes a unique collection of more than 2 000 Easter eggs from various cultures, most notably the famous and precious Fabergé eggs by the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé.
“Anschluss or preservation of sovereignty? – Liechtenstein in 1938” is the title of a special exhibition in the Liechtenstein National Museum from September 2013 to January 2014. It deals with Liechtenstein’s situation after the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany on 12/13 March 1938. In the following days and weeks, important steps were taken to preserve Liechtenstein’s sovereignty. The Progressive Citizens’ Party (FBP) and the Patriotic Union (VU) pledged their allegiance to the Constitution, independence, the Princely House, and the Customs Union with Switzerland. In July 1938, Franz Josef II became Reigning Prince. He took up residence in Liechtenstein and in this way confirmed the will of the Princely House to preserve sovereignty.
For several years, the motto C/O/U/R/A/G/E has been displayed in capital letters on the foyer wall at the Theater am Kirchplatz (TAK) in Schaan. The small theatre’s aim is to provide a place for developing the courage to be unique, audacious and non-conformist. The theatre strives to encourage its visitors to assert their role as contemporaries in spite of all uncertainty, to support individual thought and feelings. The TAK is a regional theatre attracting international plays and concerts to the country while also presenting its own productions as well as co-productions. It is organised as a cooperative and receives state promotional funding in addition to private support and monetary provisions from the municipalities of Schaan and Vaduz. In addition to plays, concerts, readings and discussions, the TaK also organises children’s and young people’s theatre. In 2011, TaK was the main organiser of the MorgenLand Festival under the patronage of the Liechtenstein government. The festival’s goal was to bring civic engagement together with society, politics, economics, and culture.
With over 2 750 students, the Liechtenstein Music School is the largest educational institution in Liechtenstein. It is open to all age groups, is actively involved in the cultural life of the region and promotes musical diversity, through organising 200 annual events. Auditions, teachers’ concerts, scenic performances, large musical comedies and concerts in every musical style enhance Liechtenstein’s cultural calendar throughout the year. Annual highlights include the musical competition “Making Music in Liechtenstein” as well as the Teachers’ Concert and International Master Courses. The Music School helps musicians to prepare themselves for admission to an institute of higher education. In 2013, the Music School celebrated 50 years of existence as the nucleus of Liechtenstein’s musical life. Ten years before, the Liechtenstein Parliament set out a financing key in the Music School Act: 50% State, 25% municipalities, 25% school fees. In 1994, the Jazz-Rock-Pop division was founded.
The list of Master Course instructors that come to Liechtenstein each year reads like a who’s who of the music world. Since their founding in 1970, the International Master Courses have evolved into a high-quality international seminar and event platform in Liechtenstein. Every summer, world-famous musical greats expertly instruct 100 to 120 young professional musicians from various countries in a range of subjects. The traditional teachers’ and participants’ concerts are a permanent feature of the summer cultural offerings in Liechtenstein. More than 3 000 musicians from 48 countries have participated so far.
The Liechtenstein School of Fine Arts was established in 1993 as a complementary educational option for children, young people and adults. Since 2002, it has been an independent foundation under public law. The aim of the School of Fine Arts is to provide a productive, contemporary educational facility advocating an open and independent understanding of art and design. Its goal is to promote by all possible means the creative talents and abilities of its students and to encourage them to develop their own unique personalities. The School of Fine Arts promotes creativity in children and adults through imaginative painting, drawing, photography and the new media. In accordance with international directives, it prepares students for admission to a professional art academy.
In comparison to other national libraries, the history of the Liechtenstein National Library is short, beginning as it does shortly after the Second World War in a time of economic upswing and a reinforced (self-) awareness of sovereignty. The idea of a central facility for collecting and documenting materials written in and about the country led to the 1961 establishment of the Liechtenstein National Library as a foundation under public law. As a result of the 1998 renovation, the library acquired a modern infrastructure.
As a national library, its legal mandate is to collect every written document, either printed or published, either generated by Liechtenstein citizens or written about Liechtenstein and its neighbouring region. The same applies for pictorial or sound documents (CDs of choirs, bands…). In its function as a scientific library, it provides the necessary professional literature for study or professional purposes and acquires or arranges the sharing of information from foreign libraries. In its function as a public library, it offers a comprehensive range of books, videos, DVDs, etc. for entertainment or continuing education purposes.
The National Library provides media for every age group representing every field of knowledge and for learning and entertainment purposes. The inventory consists of nearly 220 000 media materials (at the end of 2004): books, periodicals, newspapers, VHS and DVD videos, audio cassettes, CDs, records, CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMS, microfiches and microfilms. Only slightly less than half of these materials are located within the library building; the remainder is housed in an external facility due to shortage of space. Approximately 5 500 new media materials are added each year.
The Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum, a museum of contemporary art in Vaduz, regularly presents exhibits featuring works from the private collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, thus creating a link with the world of the Old Masters. Cooperation with the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna has existed since 2000, when the Kunstmuseum was opened.
Since 2000, the “Long Night at the Museum” has been held annually and simultaneously in Austria, South Tyrol and Liechtenstein. The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation Radio and Television (ORF) organises the event. All participating museums welcome visitors from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the same day. Within certain areas, shuttles provide transportation to several of the participating museums.
In 2006, the Kunstmuseum St.Gallen, the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein and the Frankfurt Museum for Modern Art (MMK) acquired the historically significant Ricke Collection, thus striking a new, innovative path towards cross-border cooperation between museums. Although the collection legally belongs to all three facilities, the collection has been preserved as a whole and the partners have equal access to the entire inventory. The Ricke Collection is a unique art collection of great artistic quality. It is primarily comprised of American art since the 1960s. Because it illustrates an incomparable concentration of work groups that optimally complement each other, the collection is unparalleled worldwide.
Businesses in the export and financial industry also dedicate funds to the promotion of culture. For instance, the Martin Hilti Family Trust is building up an extraordinary collection from the Classic Modern period to the present. At the same time, the Hilti Foundation is sponsoring the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela by providing 3 million USD for instruments. Since 1996, the Foundation has also promoted the work of underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio. His excavations in the harbour of Alexandria, Egypt, and in Abu Qir Bay have divulged spectacular finds and new historical insights. The “Egypt’s Sunken Treasures” exhibit has travelled around the world. The treasures have been shown in Berlin, Paris, Bonn, Madrid, Turin, Yokohama and Philadelphia and will be on exhibit in four other US cities in 2011. The Fritz Kaiser Foundation also makes one of the most important collections of Chinese contemporary art in the world accessible to a broad public. Wealth manager Fritz Kaiser has built up the collection over more than two decades and has put “The Museum of Chinese Contemporary Art” on the Internet under 88MoCCA.