Not only the variety of museums and research institutions make the ZKM a one-of-a-kind cultural institution throughout the world.
Art and media art are presented in thematically structured, globally-oriented exhibitions. In an exhibition space extending across nearly 15,000 m², the ZKM showcase current developments in art and society, and in doing so, cover the entire range of media forms and processes – from oil painting to Apps, classical composition to sampling. Interactive installations that invite public participation draw large numbers of visitors – especially young ones – every year. By presenting art and its production by guest artists on site, the ZKM takes a fascinating approach to the interrelations of production and research, exhibition, communication, and documentation.
The ZKM has become a leading museological model since it has not only vastly extended the classical museum to accommodate new media, but in numerous exhibitions, publications, and symposia has also thematically expanded the most important artistic achievements of the second half of the twentieth century, such as light art, sound art/Klangkunst, digital art, and the art of dealing with the operation and effects of globalization. The ZKM has thereby set precedents, which have become global impulses taken up throughout the world by other prominent museums. As a site of knowledge, the ZKM is informative and innovative; as site of art, communicative and interactive; and as a site for visitors, participative and performative. As a site of knowledge, ZKM is not only the ‘Mecca of Media Arts,’ but also a platform for scientific research, theories, discourses, and encounters between philosophy, science, art, politics, and the economy. In theory and practice, ZKM engages creatively and critically with the rapid developments of communication and information technologies, the possibilities for art resulting from them, and the associated social transformation. Interactive installations that invite participation draw visitors of all ages – between 220,000 and 240,000 annually. Over the course of a given year, the ZKM presents roughly thirty exhibitions and 100 events, publishes around fifteen substantial works, and gives approximately 1,500 guided tours. (Peter Weibel)