In 1945 Adolf Würth began wholesaling screws in his home town of Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg, and his son Reinhold later expanded the business into a cross-border distributor of fasteners and tools. The Würth Group is now a company of global significance and if you work in a relevant trade you’ll almost certainly know their name. If not, they may not be on your radar at all.
In 1987 Reinhold and Carmen Würth established the non-profit Würth Foundation (Stiftung Würth) to promote art, culture, science, research and education. In the foundation’s early years, works of art in the Würth Collection were displayed solely at the newly established Würth Museum in Künzelsau. From 1999 the foundation began to open a succession of art galleries (variously called ‘museums’ or ‘forums’) at or near the company’s warehouses in countries across Europe. There are now around a dozen.
Early in the 21st century, the company wanted to build an expansive distribution centre beside the Roma Nord branch of the A1 (E35) motorway on the outskirts of the little town of Capena. Rumours have since circulated locally to the effect that planning permission was (unofficially) made conditional upon the creation of an accompanying art gallery, which in turn would help Capena gain the coveted città d’arte status. However, most towns would appreciate the arrival of a business like Würth on their outskirts, with or without a gallery, so the stories may be nothing more than snarky inventions.
Either way, the Art Forum Würth opened here in 2006 and Capena soon afterwards became a città d’arte. The forum is an excellent space for displaying a series of temporary exhibitions, and admission is usually free here – which is not the case at all Würth galleries. Though they’re impressive, these shows are relatively inexpensive for the foundation to arrange, given that it already possesses the premises and the artworks. And I have a suspicion that, by comparison with the group’s other galleries, quiet Capena gets some of the least exciting shows, which then stay here for the longest time.
When [Hidden Lazio founder] Juliet and I attended an exhibition of Austrian art on a weekday morning in March 2017 we had the place to ourselves – and the subsidised café too – for most of the time we were there. And when we wanted to buy a couple of items in the gallery shop it took five minutes for the security guard to find a member of staff who could take our money. If this were a publicly funded institution, I might worry for its future in such circumstances, but given Würth’s corporate solidity I presume the art forum is safe.