Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen

Conference of National Cultural Institutions

The Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen (Conference of National Cultural Institutions (KNK)) is a cooperative association furthering the interests of 23 nationally significant cultural institutions of various sizes and orientations in the federal states of eastern Germany, each represented by their respective directors.

The KNK serves as a platform for exchange, programmatic discussion and the communication of joint interests and objectives. Its distinctive character is defined by the heterogeneity of its member institutions and the cross-genre diversity of their scope of competence. Building on these attributes, the KNK has launched several trendsetting projects in recent years, such as the SiLK Cultural Asset Protection Guidelines on matters of catastrophe prevention and the security of cultural assets, and the projects Audience Development” and Perspectives of Eastern German Collections”.

At its general assembly in autumn 2021, the KNK elected two new spokespersons – Dr Ulrike Lorenz, president of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, and Prof. Dr Christoph Martin Vogtherr, general director of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg. The spokespersons have been tasked to initiate a process that would transform the association to one that includes cultural beacons” from all of Germany based on a jointly defined strategy and newly developed mission statement. 

The objective is to draw on the federal organisational structures and interdisciplinary scopes of expertise at the KNK to explicitly define its bridge-building function in promoting social cohesion between the federal states of eastern and western Germany, as well as between metropolitan hubs and rural regions. Furthermore, it should aim to bundle and mediate the individual rationales of the commemorative and programme-based institutions it represents.

The Conference of National Cultural Institutions (KNK) was founded on 1 March 2002 at the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle on the basis of the so-called Blue Book”.

The KNK is responsible for safeguarding and promoting the ongoing maintenance and study of cultural heritage preserved at cultural institutions in the federal states of eastern Germany, designated as nationally significant” by the Blue Book. The goal is to sustainably generate political and public awareness of their museums, collections, archives and landscape parks and gardens.

The KNK serves as a platform for communicating the joint interests and objectives of the participating institutions. In order to carry out joint activities, project groups and committees are formed from a so-called competence pool” of the member institutions. Over the years, the KNK has evolved into a skilled network that successfully presents the accomplishments and tasks of the most important art collections and museums in the new federal states to domestic audiences and the greater European public. 

The Blue Book is based on an evaluation study, initiated by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and compiled by Prof. Paul Raabe. Originally published in 2001, it summarises all the entirely state-financed cultural institutions of importance located in the federal states of eastern Germany. It lists cultural beacons”, i.e. museums of national cultural heritage, and cultural commemorative sites”, i.e. institutions dedicated to commemorating influential German figures. The 23 cultural beacons” have all since organised themselves in the Conference of National Cultural Institutions.

The term Blue Book” is a reference to the Blue List”, a study which reviewed the research institutes that formerly belonged to the Academy of the Sciences of the GDR and assessed which of these merited federal funding. The Blue Book now serves as a touchstone of cultural identity and underscores the importance of the eastern German cultural landscape for all of Germany and the European continent. It has been published in three slightly altered forms with respect to selection and ranking in 2001, 200203 and 2006.