The Long Night of Museums 2023: a new cultural space at the EPO
On 5 October, the European Patent Office (EPO) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the European Patent Convention in Munich. In honour of this occasion, our headquarters on the banks of the Isar were opened on the "Long Night of Munich Museums", from the basement up to the top floor, giving visitors an exclusive look behind the scenes. Visitors to the "Long Night of Munich Museums" were invited to take part in guided tours of our contemporary art collection and architectural tours of our - now listed - distinctive steel and concrete building with its glass facade, which was built between 1976 and 1980 by the renowned architects von Gerkan, Marg & Partners.
The main attraction was our completely redesigned cultural space, which has been reconfigured to mark the anniversary and has now been introduced to the public. It arose from the reconception of a basement space measuring around 3000 m², which among other things used to house a printing department and former storage for files, spaces which were no longer needed following the office's digital and ecological transformation.
After almost two years of revitalising the space, a totally new concept of use emerged. Waiting to be discovered were a new permanent exhibition on the EPO's history and architecture, a laboratory of the future with media art installations that focus on technology and society, an artist's studio with newly acquired works by young Estonian and Ukrainian artists, a black box for immersive projects and site-specific commissioned works, a co-working space for staff, and a bar designed by artist Esther Stocker, which is a site-specific commission measuring almost 300 m². Also new was the presentation of works from the EPO's art collection in a warehouse exhibition and in a special themed exhibition on art and climate change.
In the course of the refurbishment, two renowned guest curators were invited to curate two sections of the space: Pascal Griset, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and Capacity for Corporate History, who conceived an extensive permanent exhibition about the history of the EPO to mark its 50th anniversary; and the Ars electronica's export team (from Linz, Austria), which undertook a project to integrate media art installations into the former patent file archives in a way that ensured minimum interference - the installations concern urgent issues and questions for the future of our society, for example our approach to big data and artificial intelligence, sleep as climate technology, the human footprint and its consequences for the world's oceans, sustainable production of materials or the exploration of new living environments in space.
The "Long Night" opened with a programme for children in the afternoon before the guided tours through the new cultural space and the building began in the early evening.