Photoforum Pasquart opened its doors in 1984. What began in two classrooms of a former school is now 32 years old. A combination of curiosity, public-sector funding and a group of dedicated proponents of Swiss photography lead to the call for the “promotion of photography in all its forms”. This was the founding principle of Photoforum Pasquart, the result of a private initiative by Francis Siegfried. A photographer himself, and responsible for establishing the photographic collection of the city of Biel, Siegfried was director of Photoforum Pasquart until 2003. The institution developed an extensive network of photographers and worked as an advocate for the medium in the 1980s, a time when photography was under-appreciated. Since 1987, the institution has been supported by the “Photoforum Pasquart” voluntary association, which has over 700 members.
In 1991, Photoforum Pasquart realised its first annual/Christmas exhibition, an amended version of which is now known as SELECTION | AUSWAHL. Two years later, the “Prix Photoforum” added to the format: an annual prize awarded to young photographers. The former hospital (built 1866), complete with accompanying extension by Diener & Diener architects, was opened in late 1999. This doubled the exhibition area to over 300 square metres, and since then Photoforum Pasquart has benefited from numerous synergies on many different levels. Alongside Photoforum Pasquart, Centre Pasquart houses the Kunsthaus and the Kunsthaus Sammlung, the Filmpodium, the Kunstverein Biel and espace libre – the exhibition space of visarte. The building also accommodates the offices of the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography and the Swiss Sculpture Exhibition. Photoforum Pasquart has showcased exhibitions including: Nicolas Faure (Autoland; 2000), Olivier Christinat (2000), Simone Kappeler (Herbarium & Corpus Delicti; 2001), Jane Evelyn Atwood (Trop de peines, femmes en prison; 2002), Raphael Hefti (Field Trip; 2004), Tilo Steireif (Welcome Home; 2006), Tobia Zielony (Trona, Armpit of America; 2009), Nils Nova (Inversion; 2011), Guadalupe Ruiz (Nada es Eterno; 2012), Yann Mingard (Repaires; 2014).
In 2003, journalist and photographer Daniel Mueller took over as director. With the aim of discovering new trends, he placed the emphasis on contemporary photography and promoting young talent, and continued to develop the platform over the following twelve years. In December 2015, curator and publicist Nadine Wietlisbach became director – a new generation in Photoforum Pasquart.