An Institution in Formation
Located in the valley of the river Inn, amongst the remnants of a medieval monastery and set against the backdrop of alpine mountains, MUZEUM SUSCH opened its doors to the public on January 2nd, 2019. It serves as a new addition to the matrix of experimentation and innovative approaches to art, in response to the enchanting surroundings of Engadin.
The former vicarage, hospice, and economic building were once part of a rural monastery founded in 1157 after Flüela Pass on the pilgrim's route to Rome and Santiago de Compostela. In the 19th century, a brewery building was added, located above a naturally-occurring mountain water source. To house MUZEUM SUSCH, the existing structures were subtly restored and recombined in a complex form, providing an inspiring environment for artistic production and engagement. The diverse ensemble invites visitors to embark on exploratory journeys and offers spaces for exhibitions, experimental presentations, performances, conferences, lectures, events, and an interdisciplinary residency program.
MUZEUM SUSCH is a space for discussion and investigation, drawing on the experimental nature of a Kunsthalle. Founded by Grażyna Kulczyk, the Polish entrepreneur and long-time supporter of contemporary art, it is particularly (though not solely) focused on promoting the work of female artists and fostering an emotional connection to art as a matrilineage of the often neglected, overlooked, or misunderstood. The museum's goal is to contribute to the recognition and greater visibility of artists and works that reflect these concerns. This focus is reflected in its collection, which emphasizes conceptual art and female artists, with a special emphasis on Central Eastern European art that is still underrepresented in reunited Europe. One of the defining characteristics of MUZEUM SUSCH and its programs is the reinterpretation of the canon and the marginalized, not as a suppressing force, but as a powerful voice amplifying others.
Permanent site-specific Installations
Being both a space for reflection, investigation, and engagement, MUZEUM SUSCH is characterized by its permanent, site-specific installations created by international contemporary artists. These works interact with the architecture and unique features of the museum, contributing to its evolving character and distinctive layout. The majority of the building space is dedicated to temporary exhibitions, creating a unique sense of flow and interaction with the permanent installations.
One of the first site-specific works to arrive at MUZEUM SUSCH was Monika Sosnowska’s ‘Stairs’ (2017), a 14m steel structure that sits like the spinal column in the former ice tower of the brewery. Works by artists such as Mirosław Bałka, Jarosław Kozłowski, Sara Masüger, and Adrian Villar Rojas have been created in situ, while seminal works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Heidi Bucher, Zofia Kulik, Paulina Ołowska, Piotr Uklański, and Joanna Rajkowska have been installed permanently in individually designed spaces. Over time, new additions will be made to the permanent display at MUZEUM SUSCH.
An Alpine Monastery
The reading and perception of MUZEUM SUSCH is ambiguous: both religious, as it was once part of a medieval monastery, and naturally historic. Swiss architects Chasper Schmidlin and Lukas Voellmy were commissioned to restore and expand these existing structures, adhering to the individual vision of the principal. The project balances a respect for the history of the building and creating space for a contemporary art museum within this context, while introducing minimal architectural interventions. The concept of the monastery as a place for production and reflection is ingrained in the project. The natural history of the location can be seen throughout the architecture, and is a central part of the experience.