By Helen Gregg
The Goethe-Institut New York officially opened on April 15, with a press conference in the late afternoon to introduce the new space, and to reintroduce the Goethe-Institut’s programs and overall mission. In front of members of the press, Dr. Stephan Wackwitz, director of programming, Brigitte Doellgast, Library Director, Dr. Eva Marquardt, Director of Language Programs, and Gabriele Becker, Director, briefly discussed their respective departments and their goals for the new location.
Ms. Becker introduced the directors of the institute, and spoke about its history and current mission. Dr. Wackwitz spoke of the avant-garde performances in the Wyoming Building, the Goethe-Institut’s events space that is now walking distance from the main offices, and how the new location in SoHo would help to highlight the vibrancy of German culture. Ms. Doellgast spoke of the library’s outreach to Americans, citing the library’s English-language titles, and that the Goethe-Institut library is free for anyone to come, sit, and read anything they like. Dr. Marquardt spoke of the Goethe-Institut’s support to German teachers in American schools and universities, to help them both increase enrollment in their classes, and keep their students engaged in the culture and in the language.
The representatives from all three departments kept coming back to a single goal –- to show New Yorkers that German language and culture is trendy, vibrant, and, as Dr. Marquardt said, “sexy and cool.” All three departments work together to increase the visibility of German language and culture, and to promote American engagement through film series, classes, and public events.
A wine reception followed the press conference, and the loft space soon filled with members of the press, representatives from other cultural institutions, and guests of the Goethe-Institut.
The Goethe-Institut New York was founded 38 years ago to promote German culture in the United States. It is open weekdays 2 – 7 p.m. to the public. For more information, please visit the Goethe Institut online.