The name « Cultural Exchange Center »
Ambitious, intellectual and artistic projects in a prestigious historical location.
The name « Cultural Exchange Center »
The Cultural Exchange Centers, which constitute a network and which are situated in prestigious locations throughout Europe (in Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) are defined essentially as places of culture and of exchange.
They are historical monuments that no longer serve their original purposes and which have been restored to be used as a setting for ambitious intellectual and artistic projects, while at the same time maintaining respect for the site’s past, and contributing to its safeguard by offering a new existance turned toward thought and creation. The purpose of these centers is to provide public, cultural and social services by creating and developing new modes of cultural action and creation.
The Abbey of Neumünster Cultural Exchange Center is a public institution. Its activity is one of general interest. Its legal status allows it to benefit from financial and administrative independence, and it is placed under the supervision of the ministry of culture. Indeed, although certain services provided by the CCRN may have a commercial vocation (organization of symposia, room rentals, provision of infrastructures of great esthetic and practical quality), making profits is not the main reason behind the creation of this cultural public service. As such, in order to guarantee the quality of the programming, as well as the greatest accessibility possible to culture, along with the independence of the institution, the CCRN has four sources of financing available: the largest is the grant from the Culture Ministry, which conforms to the recognition that culture is a citizen’s right and a public service to be provided by the government; the second is the result of the CCRN’s economic activities; the third comes from the contributions made by visitors and spectators of our events (ticket sales, shop). Finally, private businesses may, through patronage or sponsorship, support the activities of the Abbey of Neumünster.
The restoration of the site did not revive a traditional abbey with a religious heritage, but rather gave life to a site, each part of which is itself a witness to an era or to a turbulent history. The walls, the architecture and the environment are a book from which can be deciphered the history of Grund, of the city or even the country. The Abbey, which very early on moved away from its first, spiritual, function, has regained a certain, profane, spirituality.
Like other Cultural Exchange Centers (the Convent of La Tourette, The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud), The Abbey of Neumünster has been used, in the past, as a prison. Serving as a transit point for many Luxembourger deportees during the Nazi occupation, it remained, after the liberation, a common law prison until the mid 1980s. In order that the vaulted ceilings, the rooms, the ambulatories, the courtyards and the communication spaces become, once again, places conducive to thought, to the meeting of different ideas and to creation, the restoration was done with great respect given to the spirit of the building, of its early cultural and spiritual functions. Let us remember that the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Neumünster were known for their scholarship and their mastery of writing, becoming the founders of public education in Luxembourg. In addition, from the seventeenth century on, they provided tri-lingual education. This illustrates the degree to which the multicultural vocation of the Abbey is anchored in its very foundations. As such, the creation of the current structure represents to a certain extent a form of revenge on its turbulent history. It is fortunate that this site, synonymous for long periods of time with confinement and of rejection of Others, has become today a European multicultural center. Let us note, for example, the symbolic meaning of the presence within the walls of the Abbey of the Pierre Werner Institute, which brings together Germans, French and Luxembourgers in a common project.
The names of three buildings which make up the Center have special significance. This was done within a context of respect for a past which is pregnant with meaning. Lucien Wercollier gave his name to the Abbey’s cloister, Robert Bruch to the criminal building and Robert Krieps to the workshop which then became Tutesall.