Cultural Participation and Diversity at Fotomuseum Winterthur

How engaging with photography enhances awareness

Fotomuseum Winterthur is focused on the present and reflects on photographic images and the way they are produced, distributed and used in connection with current social issues and sociopolitical developments. As a specialised museum, we are concerned with photography and its social dynamics, tackling questions of what is made (in-)visible and who has the power to interpret and define. This focus has intensified our awareness of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion and highlighted questions of accessibility, discrimination, diversity and participation.

Photography as a multifaceted and ubiquitous practice reflects social power structures and relations. Consequently, the study of photography alerts us to the fact that patriarchal, colonialist and capitalist structures still have an influence on how we see and perceive the world, on how we think, on the value systems we create and on the way we act in our day-to-day lives, both professional and private. Their power and tenacity derive from our internalisation of these structures and systems as an unchallenged norm, which often causes them to seem neutral and ‘natural’ to us.

A practice geared to diversity and sustainability

We are aware that we are also responsible for reproducing and perpetuating these internalised patterns on an individual and institutional level – often without questioning them. Fotomuseum Winterthur is therefore working not only on programming (exhibitions, events, educational services, publications, etc.) but also on organisational development at various levels with a view to establishing a form of institutional practice that is sensitive to the issue of discrimination and geared to diversity and sustainability. To this end, we have brought in external experts (at present, Rahel El Maawi and Silvia Müri) and we are working with them on implementation at different levels.

For the sake of transparency and to express our commitment, we want to be open about the (learning) process we find ourselves in. We are sharing the content that comes out of the process with the public: the documents that emerge from our discussions are posted on this page as links and continuously updated.

We are always happy to receive constructive input and feedback. Please send your suggestions to

Resources and Links

Documents developed by Fotomuseum Winterthur as part of its programme

A glossary of key terms relating to the exhibitions Orlando and Frida Orupabo

External links to valuable resources

A Dictionary by Diversity Arts and Culture

Focus Areas

Content & Programme
Based on its focus on photography, Fotomuseum Winterthur is actively exploring questions related to representation, (in-)visibility and the locus of power invested with the authority to interpret and define content. This exploration, which takes place on an artistic, curatorial and educational level, is reflected in the programme of exhibitions and events and is a perennial focus of discussion with visitors and a wide network of experts.

Language, Communication & Education
Fotomuseum Winterthur takes language seriously as a medium that not only represents reality but actively shapes it. We carefully monitor and reflect upon changes in the use of language that accompany social developments and challenges to the sociopolitical order and exercise our judgement in transferring them into museum practice. In the long term, we seek to optimise accessibility for different people and groups from a variety of backgrounds and with disparate needs.

Team & Organisational Development
Fotomuseum Winterthur’s top priority is to develop a joined-up approach that is both sensitive and respectful. In collaborating with external experts, we are learning about the mechanisms governing different forms of discrimination and how they operate, while also developing specific options for action that can be applied in our daily work. Our long-term aim is to establish transparent organisational structures that will promote diversity and equal opportunities.

Network, Communities & the Funding Landscape
Fotomuseum Winterthur is working together with external experts to develop sustainable organisational structures and facilitate knowledge transfer. To this end, we are actively seeking funding to provide dedicated budgets for these processes. Over time, we would like to extend our discussions to involve the people and communities in question as well as specialised institutions: this will allow us to act together to critically reflect on our content, our objectives and the measures we take and contribute to our process of shaping them and critically reviewing their efficacy.

Space & Infrastructure
As part of our new building and renovation project (2023/24), Fotomuseum Winterthur is implementing the latest standards for barrier-free access for people with disabilities. We want to use the expanded space and infrastructure at our disposal to consolidate our educational programme and give the museum a more robust long-term presence as a place of participation and social encounter.

Transparency & Commitment
Fotomuseum Winterthur has a clear stance and takes responsibility for its positioning. We are establishing organisational structures with a long-term perspective to allow us to regularly review our goals and evaluate the measures we develop on an ongoing basis. This also includes quality controls undertaken by external bodies and accredited certifications for accessibility, diversity and sustainability.