A decision by the State Convention of the Berlin SPD headed by Willy Brandt (Berlin’s Governing Mayor 1957-1966) on 23 May, 1959, preceded the foundation of this association, calling for the establishment of a “culture club”. With the goal of implementing the decision, the chairman of the Berlin SPD ordered the purchase of the building at Lützowplatz 9 on March 14, 1960, which had been under fiduciary management by the British Military Administration since 1948 due to unresolved ownership issues. For this purpose, the „Fördererkreis Kulturzentrum Berlin e.V.“ was founded a month later, on April 6, 1960. Founding members were the SPD state director Josef Braun, the former main speaker of the Office for Citywide Berlin Issues Ernst Carlbergh, the Education Senator Karl-Heinz Evers, the SPD Party Secretary Konrad “Jule” Hammer, SPD state delegate Dr. Werner Bloch, regional councilor Bruno Lösche and the painter Horst Strempel. A number of political and cultural figures joined the association over the following years, such as the President of the Berlin House of Representatives Otto Bach, the former chief press officer of the Berlin Senate Egon Bahr, the architect Fritz Bornemann, the SPD state party executive Willi Eichler, the political scientist Prof. Dr. Dr. Ossip K. Flechtheim, the painter Alexander Kampmann, the actor Wolfgang Neuss, the director of the Freie Volksbühne Erwin Piscator, the Senator for Science and Art of Berlin Dr. Heinrich Rau, the actor Ernst Schröder and the chairman of the regional DGB association Walter Sickert. Towards the end of the founding decade, the association had grown to approximately 40 members. Today, it has more than 80 members.
In his capacity as Youth Secretary of the IG Metall, Horst Wagner entered the board of directors of the Fördererkreis in 1966 and remained a member until 2005, as its chairman for two long periods (1974-1985, 1993-2005). He participated in meetings of this board as its honorary chairman until his death in 2011.
Other past members of the board:
Dr. Werner Bloch (1960-1969), Fritz Bornemann (1968-1992), Thies-Martin Brandt (1992-2010), Josef Braun (1960-1966), Joachim Brickert (1968-1985), Ernst Carlbergh (1960-1962), Hartmut Dieckmann (2008-2012), Manfred Eichel (2005-2008), Konrad „Jule“ Hammer (1960-1991), Irene Hammer-Kraberg (1992-1995), Ronald Herfort (1987-1995), Walter Jaroschowitz (1971-1973), Dr. Britta Kaiser-Schuster (2005-2010), Prof. Matthias Koeppel (1992-1995), Horst Kollat (1995-2001), Bruno Lösche (1960-1963), Lutz Meunier (1973-1992), Dr. Lothar Meyer (1966-1971), Erwin Müller (1971-1985), Reinhard Müller (2001-2003), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Müller (1966-1968), Peter Nestler (2003-2005), Rudolf Otto (1969-1974), Rainer Papenfuß (1985-1992), Detlef Prinz (2001-2005), Maria Reuber (1964-1965), Dr. Irina Rusta (1992-1995), Werner Salomon (1973-1985), Erwin See (1995-2005), Dr. Ingeborg Sengpiel (1965-1968), Dr. Alexandra von Stosch (2008-2010 and 2012-2019), Horst Strempel (1960-1966), Rüdiger von Tayn (2010-2012), Prof. Ludwig Thürmer (1992-1995), Dr. Thomas Veit (2005-2010), Ralph Wagenhuber (1969-1974), Gottfried Wurche (1985-1987), Hans Zeller (1985-1993), Lydia Zeller (1995-2001) and Dr. Maren Ziese (2010-2017).
The current members of the board of directors are Elvira Bach (since 1995), Klaus Uwe Benneter (since 2010), Thomas Isenberg (since 2012), Peter Senft (since 1995), Dr. Simone Wiechers (since 2017), Kristina Volke (since 2019) and Dr. Heinrich-Wilhelm Wörmann (since 2005).
Konrad “Jule” Hammer was both board member and artistic director of HaL for thirty years until his unexpected death in February 1991. From 1992 until the end of March 2013, Karin Pott was responsible for the exhibition program at HaL as managing and artistic director. In April 2013, the curator and art historian Dr. Marc Wellmann followed her in this function.
2014, 2020 and 2022 HaL was nominated for ADKV-ART Cologne Preis für Kunstvereine.