Founded in 1985 by a cultural association, Museion – then the Museum of Modern Art – opened its doors in 1987, directed by Pier Luigi Siena and chaired by Karl Nicolussi-Leck.
In this period important solo exhibitions were held at Museion, dedicated among others to Afro, Arnulf Rainer and Lucio Fontana, Gerhard Richter, Alberto Burri and Markus Lüpertz.
In 2001 the museum extended its mission to cover modern and contemporary art. As of 2000 the focus of Museion, guided by Chairman Alois Lageder and Director Andreas Hapkemeyer, gradually shifted towards contemporary art, with particular attention to the role of language in art.
The exhibitions held in the historic venue in Via Sernesi include solo shows devoted to Matt Mullican (2001), Raymond Pettibon (2003), Hamish Fulton (2005) and Roni Horn (2006) and the group exhibitions Flirts. Arte and publicity (2004), Light Lab (2005) and Deutsche Wandstücke (2006).
In 2006 the museum became a Foundation, with the inclusion of Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano and the Associazione Museion. Corinne Diserens, appointed as director in 2007, guided the institution’s move into its new venue, designed by the Berlin architecture firm KSV – Krüger Schubert Vandreike. The striking new building, with its large glass facades forging a dialogue between the historic centre and the new city, opened in 2008 with the exhibition Peripheral vision and collective body curated by Corinne Diserens.
The move saw Museion redefining its mission as a dynamic, attentive and responsive museum, with a highly interdisciplinary approach. Since the end of 2008 Museion has been directed by Letizia Ragaglia. The Foundation has been chaired by Marion Piffer Damiani since 2010.
Museion has a strong commitment to activating its collection, and this activity is regarded as the fulcrum of its evolution. Initiatives such as the solo shows of Monica Bonvicini (2009), Isa Genzken (2010), Gabriel Kuri (2010) and, in 2011, Valie Export, Teresa Margolles and Carl Andre. As well as temporary shows, Museion strives to offer thematic exhibitions of its own collection on a regular basis. Over the years, Musieon has also begun to bring contemporary art out from behind the museum walls. Examples include Percorsi di Luce, Matt Mullican’s flags in the city of Bolzano, the presentation of Lascaux III of Thomas Hirschhorn as well as the Wirbelsäule of Carl Andre in front of the museum and the “Little Museion” designed by Alberto Garutti, which is a permanent art project.