Podcast: Fotografiska and a New Model for Photography Museums


As museums in New York and around the world begin to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a brand-new museum is facing the challenge of its grand reopening in the competitive New York City art and culture world. We welcome the inaugural Director of Exhibitions of Fotografiska, Amanda Hajjar, to the B&H Photography Podcast to discuss the unique model of this for-profit arts center and its plans to make a mark on the photography scene in New York. After opening, in December 2019, Fotografiska New York was forced to close after just ninety days and, of course, we will also ask Hajjar how they handled the quarantine disruption and are adjusting to the new protocols placed on museums.

Fotografiska New York is the third of three like-named museums, with more scheduled to open around the world. The original began in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010, and adopted a different paradigm than the traditional museum—it displays a wide range of photography styles, it has no permanent collection, and it works with the artists themselves to design the exhibitions. It also relies on admission sales, as well as café, restaurant, and special event business to generate income. It created much buzz in the months before opening in New York, and its initial reviews were positive, for its events and photo exhibition programming.

We speak with Hajjar about the museum’s exhibition philosophy and how its model facilitates an institution able to react to and comment on current social issues, as well as examine relevant images from the past. We discuss its attempt to create a hybrid between gallery and museum and shine a light on its current exhibitions, including works by Cooper & Gorfer and by Martin Schoeller. Finally, we get to the bottom of what the word Fotografiska really means. Join us for this enjoyable conversation.

Guest: Amanda Hajjar

Photograph courtesy Fotografiska

Israa With Yellow Boxes, 2020 © Cooper & Gorfer
Yellow Roseline, 2020 © Cooper & Gorfer
Gary Drinkhard, 2019, video and sound installation © Martin Schoeller
Kwame Ajamu, 2019, video and sound installation. © Martin Schoeller
Ezra, 2019 © Julie Blackmon. Courtesy the artist and Robert Mann Gallery
The Shan Hai Jing Hotel Room 002, 2019 © Zhongjia Sun
Untitled, 2019 © Cristina Bartley Dominguez
The Church Mission Building, 2019. Courtesy Fotografiska

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves