After more than a year and a half of being without a permanent director, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam said that the veteran museum leader Rein Wolfs has been picked to fill the position.
Wolfs comes from the Bundeskunsthalle—the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn—where he has served as director since 2013. In that position, he oversaw a wide-ranging exhibition program that included shows on Hanne Darboven, Kazimir Malevich (a collaboration with the Stedelijk), Karl Lagerfeld, Goethe, and the contested art collection of the late Cornelius Gurlitt, which was assembled by his father, the Nazi dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.
Coming to Amsterdam, where he will take up his new job December 1, Wolfs follows Beatrix Ruf, who resigned in October 2017 after three years on the job, amid conflict-of-interest accusations from which she was later cleared. In January, the Stedelijk announced that Ruf would not be returning to the position, and the museum and former director issued a joint statement saying that they had “agreed to leave the past behind,” and that she may be tapped for specific projects.
Wolfs has been active in the European art world for more than 30 years. Before coming to Bonn, he was artistic director of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, from 2008 to 2013; head of exhibitions at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from 2001 to 2007; and founding director of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zürich, from 1996 to 2001. He also curated the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003.
Even before his official start in December, Wolfs will be involved in decision-making at the Stedelijk, according to an official announcement from the museum, which also notes that he will terminate his “ancillary positions” by his first day, with the exception of his role as a juror for the Swiss pavilion in Venice in 2021 and 2023.
Though he’s worked elsewhere for much of his career, Wolfs was born in the Netherlands, in Hoorn, just outside Amsterdam, and raised in the country. “I grew up with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam,” he said in a statement, “and I hope to provide the guidance and support needed to lead this museum, with its revolutionary history and fantastic collection, into the future.”