The oldest Bauhaus collection in the world
The building stands outside of Weimar's Old Town and its style suites the Bauhaus very well - modern, plain and without ornamentation. And hardly any of the passers-by know that this new building houses a huge and valuable treasure, namely the oldest Bauhaus collection in the world, which has meanwhile increased to 13,000 items and belongs to the Weimar Classic Foundation (Klassik Stiftung Weimar).
The foundation stone for this collection was laid by Walter Gropius himself, the director of the State Bauhaus, in 1925 and, in the course of the move to Dessau, he played a decisive part in deciding the items to be selected. Wilhelm Köhler, the head of the Weimar Art Collections, had already begun a collection of European Modernism six years earlier. Among the first 168 Bauhaus items which stayed in Weimar were such famous classic designs as the Wagenfeld lamp, items by Marianne Brandt, furniture by Marcel Breuer and ceramics by Otto Lindig and Wilhelm Bogler.
A new museum for the centenary
Visitors can currently see some 250 exhibits from the early Bauhaus in Weimar – in the Bauhaus Museum of the Weimar Classic Foundation at the heart of the Old Town, directly on Theaterplatz. On the occasion of the Bauhaus centenary in 2019, the Foundation will open on the edge of the Weimarhallen Park a new building designed by architect Prof. Heike Hanada, who teaches in Potsdam. There will be many fascinating items on display which are today still slumbering in a store not open to the public. "What impresses me about the Bauhaus is that the artists thought about their own era and wanted to shape it" says Dr. Ulrike Bestgen, Director of the Weimar Bauhaus Museum. Together with her colleague Ute Ackermann, she is currently designing the permanent exhibition for the new Bauhaus Museum.
A history of modern design
Ute Ackermann, who often works in the store on the new concept, tells us why the collection keeps on growing. Today it also includes, together with objects, student dissertations and documents dating from the early Bauhaus years, a collection of the works of Henry van de Velde and a large number of exhibits from the State College of Crafts and Architecture, the successor to the Bauhaus in Weimar. Since 2010, the Bauhaus collection has also been enlarged by the addition of the so-called Ludewig Design Collection, for which the Berliner Manfred Ludewig has assembled almost 3000 items from all over Europe since the 1960s. In this way, one of the most exciting collections reflecting the design history of the past 200 years has been created in Weimar.
And Weimar played a decisive part in this history. Some of the members of the Bauhaus in its early years can be encountered, incidentally, right at the entrance to the Bauhaus Museum, where there is a huge black-and-white photograph. The faces of the artists reflect their free spirit, their love of experiment, of creating new ideas - and of being a little eccentric. Who would not have enjoyed looking over their shoulders when they were working creatively in their workshops, would have loved to be there - at one of their legendary summer parties in the Park an der Ilm?