At the Contemporary Art Gallery last week visiting curators from Germany reminded me of this very common German suffix. When Verein is appended to its subject, it describes the inherent sociability of that subject. It means something like an active membership or association or group working together.
Kunstverein is something like the more established artist-run institutions in Canada in that they are art institutions that have been built up from a community of active members. Bart van der Heide, the director of Kunstverein Munich, described how he had come to love his institution's verein: a group of lovable and loving mostly middle age or elderly women who continuted to act as long term members, donors and champions of the institution.
Mostly, I remember hearing the words neiverein and frauenverein - the sewing groups and women's groups that my grandmothers eagerly attended on at least a weekly basis. I can hear these words spilling out of their mouths repeatedly, so much as to accumulate in mounds on the scrubbed surfaces of both their kitchens. Verein, verein, verein, verein was affectionately cited in almost all talking - it was creditted for gossip and for tragic news and for brilliant insights and all manner of resolution and restitution in one's local and larger universe...
screen shot - "Frauenverein" image search, Google, 20140521