L’Internationale Museum of the Commons Story of L’Internationale L’Internationale Online Colophon


What: L’Internationale is a European confederation of museums, arts organizations and universities, founded in 2009. It takes its name from the nineteenth-century workers’ anthem written by Eugène Pottier.

Why: L’Internationale was founded to offer an alternative model to globalizing art institutions that replicate the structures of multinational powers and their centralized distribution of knowledge. Believing in the power of art as a platform for the discussion of a renewed social contract, we advocate for a new internationalist model that challenges exclusivity and emphasizes common heritage through interconnected archives and constituent-led approaches, fostering individual and collective emancipation.

Who: In its current configuration L’Internationale brings together seven major European art institutions: MSU (Zagreb, Croatia), Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), MACBA (Barcelona, Spain), M HKA (Antwerp, Belgium), MSN (Warsaw, Poland), Salt (Istanbul, Turkey), and Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven, the Netherlands), with Institute of Radical Imagination (Naples, Italy), tranzit.ro (Bucharest, Cluj and Iaşi, Romania) and VCRC (Kyiv, Ukraine). L’Internationale has three academic partners: HDK-Valand (Gothenburg, Sweden), NCAD (Dublin, Ireland) and ZRC SAZU (Ljubljana, Slovenia); and three associate organizations: IMMA (Dublin, Ireland), MG+MSUM (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and WIELS (Forest, Belgium).

How: L’Internationale’s principle funder is the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The current EU-funded programme ‘Museum of the Commons’ runs from February 2023 – December 2026 and includes a €2M grant that is match funded by the programme partners. The confederation works across programming (exhibitions, seminars, schools, residencies, public programmes), research and publishing (through L’Internationale Online), and communication.

Museum of the Commons

This is the fourth cooperative project led by L’Internationale, focusing on the themes of climate, translocal cooperation, and artistic strategies of healing and repair. ‘Museum of the Commons’ weaves together three transversal thematic threads corresponding to key challenges contemporary societies are facing:

‘Climate’ tackles issues of the current planetary climate crisis, the sustainability of institutional, artistic and cultural practices and processes, and the urgency of ecologically transforming our politics, societies, cultures and ways of life.

‘Situated Organizations’ queries the role of museums and art organizations as actors in complex social networks and ecosystems, in order to seek new ways of democratizing institutions and render them more open, inclusive and useful.

‘Past in the Present’, the final thread, focuses on the crucial roles our local and shared histories hold in constituting contemporary identities, politics, societies and cultures, investigating the persistence and long-lasting impact of historical and current environmental and colonial violence.

These content threads unfold through different activities – schools, seminars, residencies, public programmes and exhibitions. Assemblies for each of the strands meet online once every two months. In addition, there is an editorial board that decides on content and direction for L’Internationale Online and a Visibility Group that formulates and implements a communication plan for the network.

Governance: The Museum of the Commons is run by a Board of the Project, comprising representatives of each of the institutions, a representative from L’Internationale Association, the Managing Editor/Responsible for Research and the Project Leader, which meet monthly. It is chaired by the Project Leaders.

Project Leaders: Magda Lipska, Bogna Stefańska

Board of the Project: Nick Aikens (LI/HDK-Valand), Manuel Borja-Villel (LIA), Vasyl Cherepanyn (VCRC), Fatma Çolakoğlu (Salt), Charles Esche (VAM), Annie Fletcher (IMMA), Sabel Gavaldon (MACBA), Sarah Glennie (NCAD), Magda Lipska (LI/MSN), Nav Haq (M HKA), Joanna Mytkowska (MSN), Martin Pogačar (ZRC SAZU), Gabriella Riccio (IRI), Manuel Segade (MNCARS), Bogna Stefańska (LI/MSN), Raluca Voinea (tranzit.ro), Martina Vovk (MG+MSUM), Mick Wilson (HDK-Valand)

Story of L’Internationale

L’Internationale was founded in 2009. The founding partners of L’Internationale were the Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia; the Július Koller Society, Bratislava, Slovakia; the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (M HKA), Antwerp, Belgium. The original aim of the network was to institute a new trans-institutional organization of five European museums and archives. It was seen as a long-term collaboration based on collective use of the partners’ collections and archives. One of the goals was to challenge the usual master narratives of art and to investigate local-to-local comparisons and differences. In place of the global, hegemonic ambitions of the largest contemporary art institutions, L’Internationale proposed collaboration between museums, each with its specific collection focus and history, as a way to instigate transnational, cultural narratives in the plural. The first step of this long-term collaboration was the two-year project ‘1957–1986. Art from the Decline of Modernism to the Rise of Globalisation’ from October 2010 to October 2012.

The second programme, ‘The Uses of Art’, proposed new readings of European art history for the broader public, and ran from 2013–2017. The partners for this programme were the Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; MACBA, Barcelona; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; M HKA, Antwerp; SALT, Istanbul; and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), UK. Two academic partners – Liverpool John Moores School of Art and Design, UK, and KASK School of Arts, University College Ghent, Belgium – joined the confederation. ‘The Uses of Art’ programme inaugurated L’Internationale Online with Managing Editor Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez. The programme was anchored in the long history of civil society, tracing it back to the civic revolutions of 1848, through wars and social changes, to the revolutions of 1989, and on to the economic crises of recent years. The Project Leaders for ‘The Uses of Art’ were Steven ten Thije and Maria Mallol.

The third EU-funded programme, ‘Our Many Europes’ (OME), ran from 2018–2022. The partners for this project were Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; MACBA, Barcelona; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; M HKA, Antwerp; SALT, Istanbul; and Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw. The academic partners were HDK-Valand, Gothenburg University (host of L’Internationale Online) and National College of Art and Design, Dublin. OME’s focus was the 1990s: the decade during which contemporary Europe was born. The programme aimed to explore these pivotal years for art and society, while instituting new museum strategies that viewed constituents as active agents in diverse, plural societies. The Managing Editor for L’Internationale Online during the OME project was Corina Oprea. The Project Leaders were Sara Buraya Boned and Maria Mallol.

In 2020 L’Internationale formed an independent association as a legal entity in Belgium with the aim of supporting research and programming initiatives alongside the main EU-funded projects. In 2021 L’Internationale Association launched the Democracy Pavilion. The Pavilion started as an international conference in Ljubljana on 9–11 March 2022, organized by the L’Internationale Association in cooperation with ZRC SAZU. Plans for the Democracy Pavilion were first drawn up in late 2021. However, with the Russian army’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the platform was used to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemn the military invasion that has affected the lives of millions of civilians. The Democracy Pavilion is part of The European Pavilion – an initiative by the Amsterdam-based European Cultural Foundation, which aims to support and promote artistic projects that imagine desirable and sustainable futures for Europe. The European Pavilion was developed in partnership with the Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France; the Kultura Nova Foundation, Zagreb, Croatia; and Fondazione CRT, Turin, Italy.

In 2022 with the launch of the ‘Museum of the Commons’ project, L’Internationale underwent its most substantial evolution to date, growing to fourteen partners with three associate partners. This phase implements a new content-driven approach through the assemblies, as well as a new governance structure.

L’Internationale Online

What: Since 2013 L’Internationale Online is the common platform for research, debate and communication for the confederation. L’Internationale Online is a space where commissioned texts, research and artistic projects intersect with the activities, collections and archives of the members’ institutions. It includes a growing library of publications produced by the platform, as well as by the partner institutions, available for download. L’Internationale Online is also a platform for the network to publish statements and opinion pieces on topical cultural and political debates.

Why: L’Internationale Online is conceived as the shared platform of the partners of the confederation. It offers a space where both differences and commonalities appear and are debated. LIO approaches publishing as an ongoing dialogue with the various activities of L’Internationale.

How: The editorial board, in dialogue with colleagues across the network, commission contributions for the platform. Currently, these contributions are conceived within the three content strands of the ‘Museum of the Commons’ project: ‘Climate’, ‘Situated Organizations’ and ‘Past in the Present’, with which the articles are tagged. The platform also includes contributions from the network’s members.


Editorial Board:
Nick Aikens, María Berríos, Sara Buraya Boned, Fran MM Cabeza de Vaca, Lama El Khatib, Charles Esche, Annie Fletcher, Sabel Gavaldon, Jasna Jakšić, Christina Kennedy, Cathryn Klasto, Helena Kritis, Magda Lipska, Bojana Piškur, Martin Pogačar, Ovidiu Țichindeleanu, Ezgi Yurteri, Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide

Managing Editor and Responsible for Research:
Nick Aikens

Assistant Managing Editor:
Tove Posselt, Anna Granqvist

Copy Editors:
Hannah Gregory, Rebecca Bligh, Janine Armin

Graphic Design:
Anja Groten

Website development:
Joel Galvez

Website accessibility and ecology:
Karl Moubarak


Ecological Consultants:
Digital Ecology Institute

General Coordinator:
HDK-Valand (Gothenburg University)

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

The contents of this platform are published according to the terms of the Creative Commons Share Alike License unless otherwise mentioned.