Hartwig Fischer

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Hartwig Fischer
Hartwig Fischer thanks Matt Hancock MP (30944544780) (Fischer cropped).jpg
Fischer in 2016
Born (1962-12-14) 14 December 1962 (age 59)
Alma materMunich University of Applied Sciences
University of Bonn
OccupationArt historian
Known forDirector of the British Museum
PredecessorNeil MacGregor

Hartwig Fischer (born 14 December 1962) is a German art historian and museum director. Since April 2016, he has been director of the British Museum, the first non-British head of the museum since 1866. From 2012 to 2016, he was director of the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).

Early life and education[edit]

Fischer was born on 14 December 1962 in Hamburg, West Germany.[1] His father came from Mecklenburg. As a child, Fischer glimpsed the art galleries while visiting relatives farther to the south, in Dresden in the then (from 1949 until 1989) separate East German state.[2] He undertook postgraduate research on Hermann Prell,[3] for which he received a doctorate degree from the University of Bonn (Universität Bonn) in 1994.[4] He is fluent in German, French, Italian and English.[5]


Fischer began his career at the Kunstmuseum Basel, an art museum in Basel, Switzerland. There, between 2001 and 2006, he was curator of 19th-century and modern art.[1] He became director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen in 2006 where he presided over a period of expansion.[6][7] In December 2011, he was appointed director of the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).[4] Subsequently, he succeeded Martin Roth, after Roth left to take charge at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.[8]

British Museum[edit]

On 25 September 2015, the trustees of the British Museum announced that Fischer would be the museum's next director.[9][10] He is the first non-British head of the museum since the Italian Sir Anthony Panizzi stood down in 1866.[11] He took up the appointment on 4 May 2016.[1][12]

In his role as director, he has supported the controversial possession of the Elgin Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon in Athens by agents of Lord Elgin in the early 1800s.[13] Recent polls conducted showed that 37% of the British public supported the restoration of the marbles to the Greek government.[14] In January 2019, Fischer gave an interview in which he claimed the removal of the marbles was a "creative act", reaffirmed the British Museum's position of not loaning them to other museums, and stated that they were owned by the museum's trustees, rather than the Greek government.[15] The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Myrsini Zorba, claimed that Fischer's comments "ignore[d] the international debate and the Declarations of Unesco",[16] while George Vardas, the secretary of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, described Fischer's views as "astonishing historical revisionism and arrogance".[15]

Selected works[edit]

  • Fischer, Hartwig; Rainbird, Sean, eds. (2006). Kandinsky: The path to abstraction. London: Tate Publishing. ISBN 978-1854376770.
  • Fischer, Hartwig (2013). Georg Baselitz: Hintergrundgeschichten (in German). München: Hirmer. ISBN 978-3777421667.
  • Fischer, Hartwig (2014). Bernhard Maaz: Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden (in German). Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig. ISBN 978-3863356125.


  1. ^ a b c "Hartwig Fischer Appointed as Director of the British Museum". British Museum. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  2. ^ German Press Agency (Deutsche Presse-Agentur / DPA) (30 September 2015). "Museumschef Hartwig Fischer im Porträt: Leiser Intellektueller und Workaholic für die Kunst". Monopol – Magazin für Kunst und Leben. Juno Kunstverlag GmbH, Berlin. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  3. ^ Simona Block (29 September 2015). "Hartwig Fischer: Leiser Intellektueller". Volksstimme, Magdeburg. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Shea, Christopher D. (25 September 2015). "Hartwig Fischer to Lead British Museum". NY Times. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Hartwig Fischer at the British Museum: On a mission: The new head of the British Museum wants museums to take a stand". The Economist. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  6. ^ Dirk Aschendorf (interviewer); Hartwig Fischer (interviewee) (2 May 2012). "Scheidender Folkwang-Direktor Hartwig Fischer besorgt über Zukunft des Museums". Funke Medien NRW GmbH, Essen. Retrieved 1 January 2016. {{cite web}}: |author1= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ "Museum Folkwang / David Chipperfield". ArchDaily. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Hartwig Fischer neuer Chef der Kunstsammlungen Dresden". Sächsische Zeitung GmbH, Dresden. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  9. ^ "German art historian to become first foreign director of British Museum". The Guardian. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  10. ^ Rigby, Elizabeth; Malvern, Jack (25 September 2015). "German put in charge of British Museum's treasures". The Times. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  11. ^ "German art historian 'to run British Museum'". BBC News. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  12. ^ Jones, Jonathan (1 April 2016). "British Museum's new director brings lessons of German history". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Elgin Marbles are better off in London!". The Guardian. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  14. ^ "British people tend to want Elgin marbles returned". Yougov.co.uk. 18 October 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b Brown, Mark (28 January 2019). "British Museum chief: taking the Parthenon marbles was 'creative'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Greece to British Museum: "Fischer's views are remnants of colonialism"". Keep Talking Greece. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.

Further reading[edit]