Biennial Foundation is an independent not-for-profit arts organization.
Its mission is to provide advocacy and thought leadership for the international arts community and to engage and inspire diverse non-professional audiences by actively fostering the study, recognition and appreciation of perennial exhibitions of contemporary art, design and architecture commonly known as “biennials”.
Biennial Foundation was established in 2009 as a pioneering initiative aiming to create a platform for dialogue, networking, and knowledge sharing among contemporary art biennials around the world.
In its first five years, Biennial Foundation developed new connections and exchanges amongst biennials and biennial practitioners worldwide. One of the Foundation’s main endeavours during that period was to act as catalyst and facilitator in the process of forming a new professional member association for biennial organizers: the International Biennial Association (IBA) founded in 2014.
Having consigned the professional networking to IBA, the Biennial Foundation became an independent think-tank directing its efforts towards research, discourse, advocacy and diversity without being tied to interest of any particular biennial.
With the success of the two editions of the World Biennial Forum conference organized in Gwangju (2012) and São Paulo (2014), a series of publications and research initiatives, Biennial Foundation has established itself as thought leader in the field, while its website became the single most important resource on biennials on the web.
Biennial Foundation was initially registered in 2009 with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. In 2016, a new legal entity, Biennial Foundation Inc., has been formed in the United States, under the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. It is organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
In furtherance of its mission, Biennial Foundation:
- develops and maintains a highly-visible on-line interface functioning as the REFERENCE point for biennials world-wide;
- supports or produces relevant ARTISTIC and CREATIVE projects;
- organizes or contributes to EDUCATIONAL initiatives and cultural experiences for diverse professional and non-professional audiences (such as conferences, workshops, training programs, guided visits, publications);
- fosters interdisciplinary research and production of KNOWLEDGE related to contemporary biennials and exhibitions around the world;
- provides ADVICE for individuals, associations, and institutions intending to enrich their local infrastructure for contemporary art by setting up a new international exhibition or perennial art event.
An on-line platform functioning as the reference point for biennials world-wide. It provides a directory and a calendar of biennials, event listings, regularly updated news flashes, as well as editorial features, including exhibition reviews, trip reports, opinion columns, and interviews with key figures of the biennial industry.
An ongoing series of talks organized in collaboration with biennials and other arts organizations taking place during the exhibition period of a given biennial or at a special art event. Topics are jointly conceived with our partners and related to themes addressed by the hosting biennial or art institution.
World Biennial Forum (WBF)
Designed as an itinerant discursive event, this conference enables practitioners and enthusiasts of the biennial industry from around the world to meet and discuss shared practices and ideas within a setting of a particular locale or community. The forum is always produced in partnership between Biennial Foundation and a local art organization.
Perennial Exhibitions Research Network
A discourse community that brings together researchers currently exploring topics related to biennials, exhibition history and processes of globalization in relation to contemporary art.
Archives and Reading Room
Apart from collecting and sharing information online, Biennial Foundation is gradually developing a physical archive / library including books, catalogues, journals, and art magazines. The archive is currently accessible at the ifa library in Stuttgart.
Biennial Foundation offers a range of consulting services for existing and future biennials. We have experience in producing feasibility studies, incorporating not-for-profit organizations, visioning and writing annual reports and grant applications. We will also be able to leverage our international network of contacts to connect you with your future partners or collaborators. Please get in touch for more information: @
Commissioning and Grant-making Program
Every year, Biennial Foundation supports selected artistic and creative projects produced for biennials of art, design or architecture. The Foundation intends to take active part in commissioning of new works in the future.
Biennial Foundation Team
Biennial Foundation serves as an international network rather than as a traditional art institution. Team members are based in different countries and continents, mirroring the foundation’s scope and neutral identity. Biennial Foundation is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. Click here to view biographies
Rafal Niemojewski, Director
Manca Bajec, General Management
Isobel Whitelegg, Board Member, Secretary
Daniel Steinberg, Board Member, Treasurer
Tina Bajec, Development Advisor
Kara Blackmore, Contributor
Rose Lejeune, Contributor
Shwetal Patel, Contributor
Vija Scangale, Contributor
Vinicius Spricigo, Contributor
Media Temple, Web Management
Solar Initiative, Graphic Design
The Advisory Committee of Biennial Foundation is composed of senior professionals and scholars in the field of contemporary art and curatorial practice. Click here to view biographies
The members of the Advisory Committee are:
Caroline A. Jones – professor in the History, Theory, and Criticism section of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Ute Meta Bauer – Founding Director of Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Co-Director of World Biennial Forum No 1 (2012);
Elena Filipovic – Director Kunsthalle Basel, Curator of the 5th edition of Berlin Biennial (2008), Co-editor of The Biennial Reader (2010);
Ursula Zeller – former Director of Triennale Oberschwaben, Germany;
Khalil Rabah – Artist and Founding Director of Riwaq Biennale, Palestinian Territories;
Hou Hanru – Artistic Director of the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome, Co-Director of World Biennial Forum No 1 (2012);
Yacouba Konaté, Curator, Artistic Director of the 2006 Dak’Art – Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain, Senegal;
Bose Krishnamachari – Founding and Co-Director Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India;
Jorge Antonio Fernández Torres – General Vice-Director of Bienal de La Habana, Cuba
The members of Advisory Committee are supporting the work of Biennial Foundation on the following tasks:
- to provide critical advice and guidance on the activities of Biennial Foundation;
- to act as ambassadors for Biennial Foundation and promote it internationally;
- to help Biennial Foundation discover opportunities, in particular within relevant regional networks;
- to ensure the adequate representation of all international biennials in the activities of Biennial Foundation;
- to contribute to the formulation of objectives and developments for Biennial Foundation;
- to stand for the sovereignty, independence and integrity of Biennial Foundation.
For its various activities to date Biennial Foundation has been granted support by the Mondriaan Foundation, ifa – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, the Prince Claus Fund, ελculture Greece, the Consulate General of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Istanbul, SICA, Fund BKVB, the Gwangju Metropolitan City Government, the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and Arts Network Asia (ANA), the Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul, the Goethe Institute in Seoul, the SeMA -Seoul Museum of Art, the German Federal Foreign Office, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Berlin, the Ministry of Culture Brazil, Banco Itaú, CESP – Companhia de Energia de São Paulo, Itamaraty – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Brazil, the State Government São Paulo, Prefeitura de São Paulo, Secretaria de Cultura e Secretaria do Verde e Meio Ambiente, Auditório Ibirapuera, Itaú Cultural, Arts Council England, British Council, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in São Paulo, the Goethe Institute in São Paulo, OCA – Office for Contemporary Art Norway, the Embassy of Norway in Brazil, the Turkish Consulate General in São Paulo, Turkish Airlines, ARCOmadrid, Sidney E. Frank Foundation.