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Martin Roth is dead

Sunday, August 6th, 2017 | World News

He was the first German to head a British top museum – and made it a visitor magnet. In Germany too, Martin Roth was regarded as an exception. Now he has died with 62 years.

Visibly proud, but with great modesty, Martin Roth last summer accepted the congratulations of the British Duchess Kate. The German had led the London Victoria and Albert Museum out of its shadows and became the most important exhibition house in Great Britain. For this, it was voted "Museum of the Year" and visitor records. He soon set the line down. Now the native of Stuttgart died at the age of 62 in Berlin.

Roth was one of the most successful and most active museum-makers in Germany over the past decades. The Schwabe, who came from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, had celebrated visitor records in London with exhibitions like David Bowie (2013) or the modéesigner Alexander McQueen (2015).

The museum in South Kensington offered entertainment, art and pastime. Roth, always clothed in a perfectly fitting suit and tie, mingled with the crowd. Not infrequently, visitors received information directly from him at the input switch. Like no other, he succeeded in showing the relevance of art and design in society and politics. He was the first German to head a British top museum.

Martin Roth, the then Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) in Berlin. (Source: dpa)

In the autumn of last year, he resigned after five years. He wanted to get more involved politically, Roth had justified his retreat from London. In addition, he does not believe that he has "better managed" the leading British museum of art and design. But there was hardly any doubt that the British's decision to leave the EU was also a result of his decision.

At the radio in Germany, he said it was "pathetic" what the world of art and culture was doing against political and social threats. Just look and deal with yourself. The Europe he believes in may not have existed for a long time.

Brexit: A personal defeat
The British had decided in June 2016 to leave the European Union in a historic vote. Roth had expressed himself clearly against a Brexit before the referendum. After the result was known, he was disappointed. "I feel this result as a personal defeat," Roth said at the time of Deutsche Welle.

Roth was also able to look back on a considerable career in his home country. Roth was born in Stuttgart. He studied in Tübingen. From 1991 to 2001 he was Director of the German Hygiene Museum Dresden, from 2001 to 2011 Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and from 1995 to 2003 also head of the Deutsches Museumsbundes. Only recently, Roth had taken up his new position as President of the Institute for Foreign Relations (IfA). The cultural scientist had been promoted in Tübingen.

Roth died after a serious illness in Berlin, as confirmed by the German Press Agency from Roth's personal environment. He was 62 years old.

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