Supporting contemporary art has traditionally been a cause for our company. In 1991, to mark the company's 25th anniversary, we set up the Hannover Re Foundation to benefit the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. The foundation's mission is to acquire contemporary works of art and make them available to the Sprengel Museum on permanent loan – thereby also promoting Hannover as a centre for art. The foundation also funds publications and events to accompany the exhibitions.
Opened in 1979, the Sprengel Museum ranks among the most prominent museums of twentieth-century art with its extensive collection and diverse programme of exhibitions. The works acquired by the foundation and provided to the Sprengel Museum Hannover on permanent loan include pieces by Gerhard Richter, Donald Judd, Ronald B. Kitaj, Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Bernd Koberling and Alice Musiol. In 2014 the Hannover Re Foundation also acquired the sculpture "Another Twister" by the American artist Alice Aycock. This sculpture was similarly handed over to the museum on permanent loan and installed in front of the Sprengel Museum to mark the opening of the new museum extension in September 2015.
We are a sponsor of various art institutions in Hannover. Along with the Sprengel Museum, we also support the Wilhelm Busch Museum, the Kunstverein Hannover and the Kestnergesellschaft Hannover. Since its founding in 1916 the Kestnergesellschaft has sought to profile internationally important artists and their latest works. The spotlight here is just as much on fine arts, architecture, fashion and design as it is on current music and literature or philosophy and the humanities. In its role as a "Kestnerpartner" Hannover Re is able to promote the society's work on a continuous and lasting basis.
It was in the mid-1980s that our former Chief Executive Officer Claus Bingemer set about building the foundation of our company's own art collection.
Since that time the collection, which now numbers more than 400 exhibits by over 80 artists, has been continuously expanded. These days, decisions on acquisitions are taken by a Board of Trustees that has dedicated itself specifically to promoting contemporary art. We realise that such collections can give expression to the unmistakable identity of an undertaking and we see great potential in the field of tension between art and business. The works are divided into three major groupings: abstract art of the post-war modern era, figurative contemporary art and international art of the twentieth century. A special quality of the pieces in the collection is that they are not tied to one of the many diverse currents of modern and postmodern art, but rather – with exhibits by Werner Heldt, Hans Uhlmann, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Georg Meistermann and HAP Grieshaber – they reference artistic positions that were ostracised during the Third Reich. A further exceptional point of emphasis is on works by artists of the former GDR, such as the Leipzig-based Bernhard Heisig and Wolfgang Mattheuer and their pupils.
The exhibits that make up the collection are displayed in the company's main premises at the Hannover location as well as in the surrounding garden areas and inner courtyards of the office complexes.
The series of exhibitions dedicated to "Masterclass Students" has been held since 2014. It profiles the work of students at Braunschweig University of Art on an annual rotating basis. Current works by four young artists taking the masterclass course are displayed in the foyer of our Home Office building in Hannover. Along with the art collection, which is split into the three aforementioned work groups, contemporary art is thus just as much a focus for Hannover Re. In this context, the company's cultural engagement also extends to promoting young artists from the Lower Saxony region. Selected works from the graduating class are prominently displayed to staff and visitors alike in the foyer of the company's premises for intensive contemplation and exploration. The cooperation with Braunschweig University of Art thereby not only serves to promote young artists but also fosters mutual dialogue.
Guided tours of the exhibition and artist talks are offered for the workforce. At the end of the exhibition certain pieces are selected and purchased for the company's own collection.
Every year since 1998 E+S Rück, Hannover Re's subsidiary with responsibility for the German market, has organised an examination concert for graduating soloists in cooperation with Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media. This support gives "master students" a particularly valuable opportunity to take their final examination with a large orchestra.
At the same time the concerts enable E+S Rück to offer its clients a musical highlight as part of the "Hannover Forum" event.