Protecting intellectual property as a means of fostering innovation, competitivity and economic growth in Europe is part of the EPO's mission. The EPO's task of granting high-quality European patents and the technical and scientific educational background of its patent examiners were a key orientation for the collection's ethos from the very outset.
The EPO thus collects contemporary art because it is symbolic of the characteristics of innovation and gives expression to them in a multitude of ways. The collection therefore includes artists who have engaged with questions of a scientific or technological nature or adopted various methods from scientific practice.
The soaring number of technological fields of knowledge offers opportunities enough for expanding the collection at the interface between art and science, whether these are associative, ironic, playful, consumerist, pop-cultural or just aesthetic. Conceptual and non-figurative art tendencies, which, after the experience of the Second World War, provided important impulses for the international avant-garde, also play a substantial role.
The collection policy, however, is consciously to avoid committing to any one formal doctrine, school or generation, with the result that established artists are found rubbing shoulders with lesser-known, younger names. In an Office in which people from over 30 countries work, such openness towards others is a hallmark of its identity. The way the collection is presented within the Office allows this openness to be carried over to the way it is received.