Entrepreneur; Philanthropy (Muzeum Susch)
An investor and an entrepreneur, Grażyna Kulczyk started collecting art while she was still a law student. Among her earliest purchases were posters, created outside of the purview of the then-ruling Communist government, and 19th-century Polish art. With the fall of Communism, Kulczyk shifted her focus in both business and collecting: she ventured into automobiles, telecommunications, and energy, and started supporting contemporary Polish art.
She followed this dedication by purchasing the Stary Browar, an abandoned brewery in her hometown of Poznan in the western part of Poland, and converting it into a center for commerce and art in 2003; today, it includes numerous retail stores and art galleries. Her collection, which originally focused exclusively on Polish artists, now includes a host of international figures. Among the artists featured are Judy Chicago, Donald Judd, Eva Hesse, Jenny Holzer, Carol Rama, Alina Szapocznikow, and Rosemarie Trockel.
In 2018, she announced plans to open a multifarious contemporary art museum and research institute in the remote town of Susch, in the eastern Swiss Alps, near Davos and St. Moritz. The next year Muzeum Susch opened, joining the 30 cultural institutions housed in Switzerland’s Engadin valley. The endeavour was not without its challenges: Kulczyk had tried for years to break ground on her museum, presenting a proposal to two cities in Poland before settling on a 12th-century monastery in northeast St. Moritz. The renovation, spearheaded by Swiss architects Chasper Schmidlin and Lukas Voellmy, necessitated 9,000 tons of mountain rock to be carved out to make space for the museum’s galleries. “In the remote and beautiful mountain surroundings, we are afforded the opportunity to do something different and disruptive, to encourage a ‘slow-art’ approach to appreciating art in a contemplative, quiet context,” Kulczyk told Artnet News in 2019.