The founding director of the Goethe-Institut Saudi Arabia and former director of the Polish Institute Berlin, Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska, will head the Federal Cultural Foundation in future. The board of trustees appointed the 45-year-old as the new artistic director on Monday. In the fall, she succeeds Hortensia Völckers, who has headed the Federal Foundation since it was set up a good 20 years ago.

Wielga-Skolimowska is an “internationally experienced and curatorially experienced cultural manager,” said Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens), who chairs the foundation board. “Due to her special interest in interdisciplinary model projects and underrepresented perspectives, she will set important socio-political impulses at the head of one of the largest publicly funded cultural foundations in Europe.” She draws on “a rich, internationally shaped wealth of experience”.

Wielga-Skolimowska comes from Warsaw, where she studied theater studies. She worked in the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw. She gained curatorial experience in Poland, France, Spain, Israel, Ukraine, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia.

Her surprising dismissal in 2016 as director of the Polish Institute in Berlin by Poland’s national conservative rulers had caused “dismay” and “irritation” among cultural workers. No reason was officially given for this. However, her work was harshly criticized beforehand. The ambassador at the time, Andrzej Przylebski, complained that the importance of the Jewish-Polish dialogue should not be overemphasized.