"Never-ending source of inspiration"
The MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna enthralled Lilli Hollein as a child; today, she is the director of the museum on Stubenring. Since September 1, 2021, the native Viennese has been the first women to hold the positions of Director General and Chief Scientific Officer at the museum that is known for being the leading address for design in Vienna.
Lilli Hollein is considered to be a proven design expert. She set new standards as director of the Vienna Design Week, which she co-founded. To some extent, the topic is in her blood: Her father was the important Viennese architect and Pritzker Prize winner Hans Hollein (1934-2014), her brother Max Hollein is director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
My first question to you is this: What is your personal connection with the MAK?
Hollein: "When you grow up in a family that is strongly anchored in the world of art and culture, regular visits to art institutions are a part of everyday life. Ever since I was a child, the MAK has been a place where I have experienced wonderful exhibitions and great encounters, and which I have keenly revisited over and over. Professionally, I've been rooted in the design scene for years. With its wonderful collection of handicrafts and design, this museum has been and still is a never-ending source of inspiration for me."
What topics and content should shape your time in office?
"I would like to have a clear focus on women's issues. That focus must increasingly be shifted to women as artists and creators of art. Pop culture phenomena with a strong design aspect will also play a role in the MAK program in future. And, of course, sustainability and climate change will also flow into the museum's work in various ways in the coming years, as they did with my predecessor."
What role does design play for the MAK as you see it?
"How could design not play a key role in a museum like the MAK? The MAK is the leading address in Austria, one of the leading addresses internationally, when it comes to questions of design in all areas of life. It is important to me to sharpen the concept of design even further. Design has a social dimension – keyword Social Design – and must be forever detached from the image of surface beautification. Design is also the shaping force of the digital world that surrounds us every day. One question that we will increasingly focus on in future is how digital works can be presented in the museum's collection."
What kind of future do you think the museum has? How does it want to appeal to visitors of tomorrow?
"Through its collections, the MAK can create a direct link between art history and the immediately present life and product world of its visitors. What I want to do is attract an even broader, more diverse public with topics from the museum's collection. In the coming years, the MAK will aim a democratic, open offering at the most diverse audience possible and generate increased attention for the collection with a greater focus on new mediation formats – both analog and digital."