The Södermalm exhibition hall in Stockholm harbour quickly won the hearts of capital residents when it opened in 2010, carving out a niche figuratively and literally with its unique exhibits in an old red-brick customs house near Slussen.
“New York would be proud to have such a gallery,” one reviewer wrote of the museum on review website Yelp last year. And soon they will. Having housed world-class photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Lennart Nilsson, and Sally Mann, now Fotografiska itself is making a move onto the world stage. Its owners have announced plans to open in New York and Shanghai in 2016.
Not one to do things by halves, the institution’s physical additions are accompanied – and financed – by a new shareowner: Axel Johnson, a family-owned investment company that invests in European trade. The family, which also owns Swedish department store chain Åhléns, will be represented by daughter and New-York based photographer Sophie Mörner as well as Helena Hernander, from the family’s company Alto Cumulus.
“There is no other museum like Fotografiska, not even in New York,” Sophie Mörner said in a press statement. “It’s a meeting place, a place for art, a place to dream. I think Fotografiska is one of the best museums in the world.”
The Local caught up with co-founder Jan Broman to ask about the expansion.
One of your goals, as written in the mission statement, is to establish Sweden in the world. Will the branches abroad therefore feature many Swedish artists?
No, not really.
What will the mix of artists, Swedish and others, look like then?
Basically like here.
What is the museum going to be called abroad?
Same name. Fotografiska.
As an American, I can tell you we may have some trouble pronouncing that.
How did you choose specifically New York and Shanghai?
No specific reason.
There weren’t any special reasons you chose New York and Shanghai over other cities?
They’re exciting cities and we figured we’d like to open there someday, so why not now?
What does the current customer base of the museum look like? Very Swedish? Very mixed?
Okay. A two-part question: You (the Broman brothers who own the museum) have covered ongoing conflicts by, for example, sending photojournalist Ron Haviv on assignment to Haiti. Will you, a) continue to send people on assignments, and b) have this scholarly element in China and the USA?