Those who are versed in the problems facing museums, and the problems of cultural policies in general, will not be at all surprised to find out that the most important British museum of modern and contemporary art is headed by a Swede called Lars Nittve! After all the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm is headed by an Englishman – David Elliott, and the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna is headed by the Hungarian Lorand Hegyi… Museum nomadism is nothing new and the import and export of experts is seen in many milieus as a very favourable solution whereby the language barrier is the least of your problems!
Lars Nittve (1953) was appointed the director of the Tate Modern in 1998, two years before the museum opened, and he has participated in its creation from the very beginning. Nittve’s biography is atypical, but very instructive. After several diverging studies ranging from economy to music and history of art and experience in various vocations from librarian, art critic and ski instructor, Nittve chose museums as his profession in 1986. This was where his restless spirit was given a form to express itself. He travelled and changed institutions – from Stockholm to Malmö, from Copenhagen to London. He organised numerous exhibitions (Implosion – postmodernist perspective, Walter de Maria, Susan Rothenberg, Charles Ray, Andy Warhol, Andreas Gursky and others) and accumulated experience, which he himself admitted, helped him greatly in heading the Tate Modern.