William Kentridge, Drawing Lesson 50: learning from the Old Masters (in Praise of Folly), 2019. Kunstmuseum Basel I Gegenwart. Photo/Foto: TES.

The artist Ruth Buchanan (1980) presents a portrait of the museum (Kunstmuseum Basel I Gegenwart) spanning forty years and envisions a possible future.

One question guides the show on each level of the building, a former paper and paper storage factory, near the ancient paper mill and the present-day Papermuseum.

These questions, addressed to the context, the spatial framework, the visitors, and the museum’s relation to its own history, serve as points of departure for the exhibitions’ effort to unfold a vivid experience of museums in general and this museum in particular.

The key question is: shall a visitor come back, is it worth the trip, time and ticket? The challenging and innovative concept is a self-reflection and a portrait, a cultural history and a present-day work of art by itself.

Buchanan’s polymorphous creations spread out over all four levels of the venue, structuring the exhibition (Heute nacht geträumt) experience through colours, materials, writings, and temporary architectural elements she adds to the existing galleries and the architecture of the building and its high ceilings, authentic windows and abundant light.

Around ninety works from previous shows are exhibited in this setting. These works belong to the Kunstmuseum or the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation. They are arranged chronologically from 1980, the opening of the museum, to 2021 and after 2022?