Prof. Dr. Volker Kirchberg studied at the Institute for Sociology of the University of Hamburg in the 1980s. Following his diploma thesis, he worked for two years under the direction of Prof. Dr. Jürgen Friedrichs as a research assistant at the "Urban Research Centre" of this university. From 1988 to 1991, he studied as a graduate student at the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. In 1992, he received his doctorate in social sciences and philosophy at the University of Hamburg with an empirical case study on the cultural behavior of the urban population in Baltimore ("Culture and Urban Society"). Afterwards, again in Baltimore, he did post-doctoral research on cultural sponsoring, as a German Marshall Fund Scholar. In 1995, he became director of the "Basica Research Institute" in Hamburg. In these years, he conducted arts audience research for the House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Bertelsmann Foundation. In the second half of the 1990s, his academic activities also focused on several teaching assignments, including at the Institute for Sociology at Free University of Berlin. In 2003, he habilitated at this university in sociology, with a research paper on "Social Functions of Museums. From 2000 on, he lived and worked in the USA, where he was Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Paterson University in New Jersey until the mid-2000s. Even after his return to Germany, he continues to link his research and teaching to the United States. He was a visiting scholar at the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis of New York University (2010) and at the Department of Sociology of the New School of Social Research in New York (2014). In addition, he regularly teaches North America-related seminars on urban and cultural research and conducts excursions to the USA every two years, e.g. to the opening of American museums to society (2010), to the national museums in Washington, D.C. (2010). (2012), the importance of art and artists in New York (2014), the use of artists in the shrinking cities of Detroit and Baltimore (2016), and the importance of artists for the appropriation of urban spaces as "real utopias" in Chicago (digital excursion, 2020).   

Since the end of 2004, Volker Kirchberg has been a university professor for cultural organization at the Faculty of Cultural Studies at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. His research fields are cultural sociology (especially the sociology of the arts), the structures and dynamics of cultural organizations (especially museums and other cultural institutions), cultural mediation and communication (especially through museums), and urban sociology (especially the importance of art and artists for urban development). From 2006 to 2010 he was director of the "Institute for Cultural Theory, Cultural Research and the Arts" in the academic self-administration, from 2015 to 2019 director of the "Institute for Sociology and Cultural Organization" and from 2010 to 2012 and again since 2019 vice dean of research at the Leuphana Faculty of Cultural Studies. He is also a member of the board of several international committees in the sociology of the arts, such as the European Sociological Association and the International Sociological Association and the German-speaking Cultural Management Association. He is a member of the editorial boards and advisory boards of the professional journals "Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society", "Museum and Society", "Music and Arts in Action", "Sociologia Urbana e Rurale" and "City, Culture, and Society”. He also teaches at the Free University of Berlin (museum management) and at Bifröst University in Iceland (cultural studies in cultural management).

His methodological skills include quantitative social research (e.g. visitor and reception research, representative surveys on cultural consumption), network research (especially on networks in art and culture) and qualitative social research (expert interviews, content analysis). He can refer to numerous publications on cultural and urban sociology at the intersection of art and culture, city and sustainability. Major research projects in recent years include the interdisciplinary project "Stadt als Möglichkeitsraum" on the significance of culture and the arts for sustainable urban development (, until 2019) and the international and interdisciplinary project "Critical Art(is)s and Urban Development", a research collaboration with the political philosopher Prof. Dr. Avner De-Shalit of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In this project, which runs until 2020, we investigate the scope and type of urban political activities of artists in the four cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hanover and Hamburg.