Nicola Erni Collection – Steinhausen, Switzerland
Nicola Erni has followed her passion and acquired photography and contemporary art that speaks to her heart. She has built one of the largest photography collections in private hands, with works dating from the 1930s to today, the core being fashion photography. Portraits, landscapes and still life add to the importance of this fascinating collection.
At the same time the contemporary collection grew vastly and includes major works by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Rashid Johnson.
What inspired you to start a collection?
There was never THAT moment when I decided to start a collection. First I have been looking for photography and contemporary art for our private homes, then I combined my passion for fashion and photography. As they say, when you have more works than walls to hang, you “can consider yourself a collector”.
Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible and what are the benefits?
My collection grew constantly in the past 25 years. With the second museum building my desire to show people a different approach to art grew as well: an extended living room where art, architecture, interior design and accessories come together. To open the heart and eyes of people who are “scared” of art because they supposedly know little about it.
Our guests leave their iPhone in the wardrobe, are able to enjoy a guided tour in a small group, experience the art in a relaxed atmosphere and can leave the hectic behind. Showing them that one should live with art and create your own beautiful bubble at home.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during this process?
To find the best setup for our guests and my team next to all other tasks we oversee in the collection, such as building and logistics management.
The goal is to offer our visitors a memorable experience while keeping logistics and security under control.
What has been the most challenging work of art in your collection, either for yourself or the public?
The monumental site-specific steel installations by Rashid Johnson in the entrance of the second building, that perfectly blends in the architecture, was the most challenging work of art. We were installing it during the pandemic when Rashid was not able to come from New York. So the art handlers from the gallery and my team had to install the piece with guidance by Rashid via FaceTime. I was constantly on the phone with him, and it was a bit frustrating for both of us, because we wanted to enjoy that moment together on site. But we succeeded and a year later our reunion in person at my space was very special for both of us.
What is your biggest hope for the future of art and collecting?
I hope that even more people will be visiting and get inspired by my philosophy how to enjoy art and interior design. A mix-and-match of beautiful things that touch your eye & heart so that you leave the collection with a big smile.