New Faces in 2019: Barbara Helwing to become director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Patricia Rahemipour to lead the Institut für Museumsforschung


The Foundation Board of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, chaired by Monika Grütters, reached decisions yesterday on positions at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, naming new directors for the Vorderasiatisches Museum and the Institut für Museumsforschung.

Barbara Helwing to become director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum will be led by Barbara Helwing from spring 2019. Her predecessor, Markus Hilgert, has been General Secretary of the Kulturstiftung der Länder since 1 June 2018.

Ms Helwing studied Middle Eastern archaeology and pre- and protohistory at the University of Heidelberg, where she completed her doctorate with a dissertation on late chalcolithic ceramics from southern Anatolia. After receiving her PhD, she taught at Bilkent University in Ankara before moving to the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, where she was initially advisor on Iranian Archaeology in the Eurasia Department and later led the Tehran office. In 2008 she completed her habilitation at the University of Tübingen, licensing her to teach Middle Eastern Archaeology. Ms Helwing has not only carried out extensive research, she has also invested in ensuring that her subject-matter reaches a broader audience. In 2017 she curated the exhibition Iran: Ancient Cultures Between Water and Desert at the Bundeskunsthalle. A year before that she travelled to the University of Sydney to take up the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of Middle Eastern Archaeology, a position she currently holds.

Ms Helwing sees great potential for dialogue between the Vorderasiatisches Museum, the neighbouring museums on the Museumsinsel, and the Humboldt Forum. She intends to promote new directions in museum education and strengthen international partnerships.

Patricia Rahemipour joins the Institut für Museumsforschung

Previously head of the Knowledge Transfer Department at the Botanic Garden and the Botanical Museum Berlin, Patricia Rahemipour will become the new director of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Institut für Museumsforschung (Institute for Museum Research). Her predecessor Bernhard Graf is retiring at the end of March 2019.

Ms Rahemipour studied pre- and protohistory, classical archaeology and philosophy, and wrote her doctoral dissertation in pre- and protohistory on a topic in the history of science: Archäologie im Scheinwerferlicht: Die Visualisierung der Prähistorie im Film 1895–1930 (Spotlight on Archaeology: the Visualisation of Prehistory in Film, 1895–1930). She began working in the museum context while investigating the teaching collection at the Chair for Pre- and Protohistory at the University of Leipzig. She later worked for the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut and the Cluster of Excellence Topoi, as a project manager and curator, among other roles. Following a position at the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Ms Rahemipour has worked at the Botanical Museum and the Knowledge Transfer Department of the Botanic Garden, first as an advisor, and since 2016 as director.

She aims to achieve a marked increase in the public profile of the Institut für Museumsforschung, which she thinks of as a catalyst for innovation in the museum sector. She would like to reconceive the notion “visitor research”, taking it in the direction of audience development. Furthermore, the institute needs to play an active role in the development of the Dahlem research precinct. Ms Rahemipour believes that close cooperation with university research facilities is crucial. Such cooperation needs to involve active involvement in teaching, but also a collaborative approach to thinking about museums.

Gero Dimter to become the new Vice-President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz is getting a new Vice-President. Gero Dimter will succeed Günther Schauerte, who has held the position since 2011 and is now retiring. The decision was made by the Foundation Board, chaired by Federal Minister for Culture Monika Grütters.