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Closing of Amerika Haus

During its last session before the summer break, the Bavarian Cabinet has made an unacceptable decision: cultural center Amerika Haus will be closed in favor of a market-oriented institution!

Amerika Haus 276x

Since 1956, the Amerika Haus on Karolinenplatz has served as a vibrant space to promote American culture in Bavaria. Its extensive programming spanning theater performances, exhibitions and readings, as well as educational workshops has been vital to city life! Only in 2010 more than 50,000 visitors participated in the ambitious cultural program of the Amerika Haus. As of 2013, however, all of this will come to an end, if the Bavarian government will enforce its decision to close the Amerika Haus in order to provide space for Acatech (Academy of Technical Science)—a consulting network that is supported by numerous international corporations, including BMW, Volkswagen, Google and Nokia, to name but a few.

It is an open secret that Acatech pressed the Bavarian State to disown the Amerika Haus of its premises; otherwise Acatech threatened to leave Munich for Berlin. Economic considerations seem to have gained the upper hand in this case!

The closing of the Amerika Haus at its present location does not only mean to shut down yet another cultural institution. The building, including a theater hall, course rooms and a library was especially built for the institution and serves as a symbol for American-Bavarian relations since World War II. Even more important, though, the Amerika Haus was deliberately installed near the most important Munich buildings of the Nazi regime, especially the Führerbau on Arcisstrasse, to point the way towards a democratic future in Germany; a message that will definitely be diluted, if just another market-oriented institution will appropriate the premises. Unfortunately, not even the American government seems to have acknowledged the importance of the institutions as it stopped its financial support already in the late 1990s. If it had not been the Bavarian State and private supporters, who saved the Amerika Haus back then, the USA would have no cultural representation in Munich in contrast to France, Italy or Spain, all of who successfully run cultural institutions in Bavaria's capital. Thus, the regret US Consul Tribble has expressed upon the news seems like a fig leaf considering the USA's earlier rigid cultural politics.

One more thing: as Acatech will have no use for the public facilities of the Amerika Haus, the building will have to be reconstructed all over. On the other hand, it looks like the Bavarian government will grant the Amerika Haus association the former premises of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei (Office of the Bavarian State) on Prinzregentenstrasse. This building however, only accommodates administrative offices and would have to be reconstructed entirely, as well. It seems like not only historical relevance is trampled under foot with this recent decision, but also tax money may be wasted in order to please non-governmental economic forces!

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