The Goethe-Institut, situated at the Massachusetts Avenue end of the Seventh Street cultural corridor, hosts provocative exhibitions of contemporary German art, but is also active in its ties to other cultural centers in Washington. The institute organizes programs with the Alliance-Francaise, the American Film Institute, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among others.
True to its mission, the Goethe-Institut's exhibitions and programs focus on aspects of German language or culture, but also with an interest in fostering understanding between German culture and the culture of a host country. To this end, the institute sponsors a variety of events, including lectures, readings, concerts, films, and discussions about the "intercultural" diversity of the European Union. The institute has a special emphasis on issues related to the use of electronic media in culture and education.
The Goethe-Institut Washington, one of about 125 worldwide, moved to its current site in May 1996. It occupies the street level and second floors of a brick building on a recently refurbished block of Seventh Street. Exhibitions are hung in the open lobby space by the information desk on the second floor. The space feels German with narrow floor to ceiling windows, a polished black floor, brushed steel architectural details and stylized chairs arranged for reading.
In Fall 2000, the institute opened a new auditorium and screening room that seats about 125 people. The new room features professional 35 mm/16 mm, video and Internet projection.
Organized in Germany, exhibitions are designed to promote contemporary German artists. Both group and solo shows travel throughout the world, but unlike at other galleries, the work is rarely for sale. Related programs are planned in conjunction with exhibitions that change roughly every two months. The Goethe-Institut distributes a calendar that is mailed to Friends of the Institut (FOGI) or can be picked up at the center.
German classes taught by native speakers are available at several levels. These courses make extensive use of up-to-date authentic materials from Germany and feature online components. In addition, an informal conversation group or Stammtisch is offered once a month.