Max Hollein

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Max Hollein, Director of Schirn Kunsthalle, Städel Museum and Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, at the opening of the Monet exhibition in the Städel Museum in 2015.

Max Hollein (born 1969) is an Austrian art historian who had been serving as Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since July 2016.[1] In April 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that Hollein would become its 10th director while reporting to Daniel H. Weiss, the president of the Met.[2]

Hollein oversaw both the de Young and the Legion of Honor, which together are the seventh most-visited art institutions in the United States, with 1.4 million visitors in 2016.[3] Hollein joined the Fine Arts Museums in July 2016 from his position as the director of Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Städel Museum[4] and the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung.


Hollein was born in Vienna in 1969 to architect Hans Hollein and Helene Hollein. He studied art history at the University of Vienna and business administration at the Vienna University of Economics. During this period, he also free-lanced for the business section of the national daily newspaper “Der Standard”. In 1995, following the successful completion of his studies with two master's degrees, one in art history and the other in business administration, he moved to New York City to take on the position of project director of exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

From 1996 until the end of 2000, he worked closely with Guggenheim director Thomas Krens, initially as “Executive Assistant to the Director“ and, from 1998 onward, as “Chief of Staff and Manager of European Relations“ responsible for key projects such as the establishment of the exhibition halls “Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin” and “Guggenheim Las Vegas”. He was also involved in fundraising, travelling exhibitions, the inauguration activities at Guggenheim Bilbao as well as liaising with European cultural institutions, collectors, media, curators and sponsors.


Schirn Kunsthalle

Hollein repositioned the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt nationally as well as internationally through a highly popular yet challenging exhibition programme from classical to contemporary art mounting up to ten major shows per year. The depth, quality and quantity of the programme has been accompanied by a significant increase in corporate funding. Among the highlights of the programme have been exhibitions such as “Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture”, “Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors”, “Yves Klein”, “The Naked Truth: Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka and Other Scandals”, “Women Impressionists” and “Edvard Munch. The Modern Eye”. At the Schirn, his frequent collaborator was noted art historian Olivier Berggruen, and for many years now, the Schirn has been the most popular art institution in the Rhine-Main region. In 2012 the Schirn had its best attended year so far with a total of 479,121 visitors.[5] Its online and digital outreach has been significantly advanced and the Schirn publishes its own wide reaching online magazine “Schirn Mag” since 2011.

Städel Museum

At the Städel Museum, Max Hollein introduced a wide spectrum of new exhibition formats: from small “cabinet exhibitions” on such artists as Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Martin Kippenberger and others, to the “Constellations” series with works of contemporary art from the museum’s holdings. Under his direction, the Städel realised major exhibitions on the Old Masters, including “Cranach the Elder”, “The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden” and “Botticelli” as well as significant retrospectives on modern masters such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann. Under Max Hollein, special emphasis was also given to the development of the collection: between 2006 and 2012 more than 1,500 works were added to the collection. Among the most significant projects worthy of mention in this context was the major expansion of the Städel Museum completed in 2012 which doubled the institution’s gallery space and created a new wing for the presentation of art since 1945. Both the architecture as well as the significant collection development were hailed by the public and the media. More than 50 percent of the 52 million euro construction costs were raised through private sources in an unprecedented fundraising campaign. The Städel was honoured as “Museum of the Year 2012” by the German art critics association AICA in 2012.[6] In the same year, the museum recorded its highest ever attendance numbers, with 447,395 visitors.[5] The Städel significantly enlarged its activities and outreach through a major digital expansion on the occasion of its 200-year anniversary in 2015.[7]

Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung

Under Max Hollein’s directorship, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung underwent the greatest reorganisation of its infrastructure since 1990. The various departments from Old Egypt and Antiquities, through Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque to Neoclassicism as well as the “studioli” on the top floor of the museum villa were newly installed under his tenure and reopened in 2008 with an entirely new colour and lighting concept. Funding for this major renovation came to a large extent from private and corporate sources. Exhibitions such as “Sahure – Death and Life of a Great Pharaoh”, “Gods in Colour ”, “Franz Xaver Messerschmidt” and “Jeff Koons: The Sculptor” were received with unprecedented success. In 2012 the Liebieghaus had 153,737 visitors, making it the best attended year in the history of the institution.[8]

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Hollein assumed the role of Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco on 1 June 2016.[9][10] In this capacity, he managed an operating budget of $60 million and over 500 employees.[2]

Since his appointment Hollein has instituted a major restructuring of the museum organization and has added the institution's first contemporary curator; Claudia Schmuckli.[11] Hollein has successfully launched a contemporary art initiative, bringing the work of living artists into dialogue with the buildings and collections of the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor, with exhibitions by Urs Fischer and Sarah Lucas at the Legion of Honor and Carsten Nicolai and Leonardo Drew at the de Young museum.[12] In January 2017, the institution announced a significant new addition to its collection of American art through the acquisition of 62 works by 22 contemporary African American artists, including Thornton Dial's Blood And Meat: Survival For the World (1992) and Lost Cows (2000-1), Joe Light's Dawn (1988), Jessie T. Pettway's Bars and String-Pierced Columns (1950's), Lonnie Holley's Him and Her Hold the Root (1994) and Joe Minter's Camel at the Watering Hole (1995).[13] Since his appointment he has opened several critically acclaimed exhibitions, including The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth Century France[14], Frank Stella: A Retrospective[15], Danny Lyon: Message to the Future[16], Monet: The Earl Years[17] and Stuart Davis: In Full Swing[18]. The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll marked the end of his first year in tenure. The exhibition celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love[19]. Over its 19-week run, it drew almost 270,000 visitors and 400.000 online visits from around the world, making the exhibition[20] the highest attendance in recent years.

According to Vogue magazine, Hollein was the Chairman of the international Bizot group of Museum directors.[21] In 2002, the Bizot Society stated its objectives in apublic statement titled, "The Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums".[21]

Metropolitan Museum of Art

In April 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that Hollein will become its 10th director.[2] He succeeded in a selection process whose finalists included Adam D. Weinberg, Julián Zugazagoitia, Emilie Gordenker, Timothy Rub, and Taco Dibbits.[2] In his new role, Hollein will report to Daniel H. Weiss, the president and chief executive of the Met.[2] His appointment was criticized in three newspapers, The Guardian[22], The New York Times[23] and The Observer[24] for being the 10th white man appointed to the position at the Met, suggesting the institution's lack of diversity.

Personal life

Hollein is married to fashion designer Nina Hollein; they have three children.[10][25]


Selected publications

  • Editor (with Olivier Berggruen), Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors: Masterpieces from the Late Years, Prestel, 2006.
  • Olivier Berggruen and Max Hollein eds., Picasso and the Theater, Hantje Cantz, 2007.

Further reading

Interview with Max Hollein at DB ArtMag.


  1. ^ Halperin, Julia (23 March 2016). "Leading German museum director, Max Hollein, heads to San Francisco New director of Fine Arts Museums brought experience of running three Frankfurt institutions". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Robin Pogrebin (10 April 2018), The Met Goes Beyond Its Doors to Pick a Leader Who Bridges Art and Technology New York Times.
  3. ^ Javier Pes, José da Silva, Emily Sharpe (29 March 2017). "Visitor figures 2016: Christo helps 1.2 million people to walk on water While the Whitney breaks the hold of New York's Met and MoMA". Archived from the original on 12 April 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Max Hollein Becomes Director of the Stadel", Art Daily, accessed on 8 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b Historic Attendance Records, Press Release by Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, accessed on 8 April 2015 (broken link)
  6. ^ Aica, accessed on 8 April 2015
  7. ^ "Städel Museum 2.0" (29 March 2015), Deutsche Welle.
  8. ^ Jeff Koons Liebieghaus, Website by Liebieghaus, accessed on 8 April 2015
  9. ^ Jori Finkel (22 March 2016). "Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco Picks Max Hollein as Next Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2016. In a surprising move, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has gone beyond the United States for its next director, hiring Max Hollein away from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
  10. ^ a b Catherine Bigelow (27 June 2016) "A fine welcome for Fine Arts Museums’ new chief", San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ "Claudia Schmuckli appointed curator for Fine Arts Museums". SFGate. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. ^ "The Legion goes engagingly modern". SFGate. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. ^ "The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Acquires 62 Works by African American Artists from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  14. ^ Wilkin, Karen (15 June 2016). "'The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth-Century France' Review: The First Artists' Collective". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  15. ^ Farago, Jason (29 October 2015). "Frank Stella at the Whitney – from impassive abstraction to riotous baroque". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Il messaggio di Danny Lyon". Internazionale (in Italian). 21 February 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  17. ^ 赵思远. "Monet's early days revealed - World -". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  18. ^ "de Young Show Proves Stuart Davis Ought to be a Household Name". KQED Arts. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  19. ^ "The Summer of Love returns to San Francisco". Newsweek. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  20. ^ "The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll Closes with Record Attendance Numbers", Press Release by de Young Museum, accessed on 20 September 2017.
  21. ^ a b Vogue. "Meet Max Hollein, the Metropolitan Museum’s New Director." 15 August 2018, by Dodie Kazanjian.
  22. ^ Sayej, Nadja (2018-04-16). "Diversity in spotlight as Met museum hires 10th white male director in a row". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  23. ^ "Opinion | Appointing Yet Another White, Male Director Is a Missed Opportunity for the Met". The New York Times. 2018-04-12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  24. ^ "Met Museum Announces Yet Another White Male as New Director". Observer. 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  25. ^ Eve MacSweeney (10 April 2018) "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Has Chosen Max Hollein as Its Next Director", Vogue.
  26. ^ Kulturministerin Claudia Schmied überreicht Max Hollein das Österreichische Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst Austrian Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs, press release of 12 July 2010.
  27. ^ "Max Hollein bekommt Binding-Kulturpreis", Journal Frankfurt, 9 March 2015 (in German).