Museum & Architecture
A Tour through Germany
Six museums, five architects, one axis – in short, this is the idea behind the architecture route. From Berlin to Osnabrück, stopping in Wolfsburg, Bielefeld and Herford along the way, you will discover six museums, each with a different thematic emphasis. Yet they have a significant unifying factor, they all incorporate avant-garde museum structures. The architectural conception of museum buildings is an interesting challenge for any major architect. You can form your own opinion of the interaction of form, function and content at these different sites. Take a trip and see how these museums are more than object and collection repositories: They are themselves extraordinary works of architectural art.
We look forward to your visit!
Jewish Museum Berlin
An architectural masterpiece, Daniel Libeskind’s spectacular structure from 1999 has firmly established itself as one of Berlin’s most recognisable landmarks. Libeskind has dubbed his design "Between the Lines," a title which reflects the tension of German-Jewish history. This past is incorporated into the design of the building, taking shape along two lines charting various cultural connections and modes of thought. One is straight, but broken into many fragments; the other is winding and open-ended. The intersection of these lines is marked by voids, empty spaces that cut through the entire museum. With these, Daniel Libeskind underlines the emptiness that resulted from the displacement and homicide of the Jews in Germany.
Rich in symbolism, the museum’s architecture makes German-Jewish history palpable and is completed by the permanent exhibition on two millennia of German-Jewish history. The entrance to the Jewish Museum is situated in the Collegienhaus built in 1735. Coated in an alloy of titanium and zinc, the new structure forms an exciting contrast to the baroque building. Since autumn 2007, the ensemble has been complemented by a glass courtyard, also designed by Daniel Libeskind.
Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Lindenstraße 9-14, D-10969 Berlin, Tel. +49 (0) 30 25993300, www.jmberlin.de, opening hours: Mon: 10 am-10 pm, Tue-Sun: 10 am-8 pm, Tourist-Information: www.visitberlin.de, +49 (0) 30 250025, information[at]visitberlin.de
Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin
The German Historical Museum presents itself in two buildings: In the unique baroque Zeughaus, or former Arsenal, at the boulevard Unter den Linden and in the adjacent modern Exhibition Hall designed by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.
The 300-year old Zeughaus is one of the most important buildings of the Baroque period in Berlin and the oldest building at the boulevard Unter den Linden. Four architects were responsible for the development of the Zeughaus from 1695 until its definite use in 1729: Johann Arnold Nering (1659-1695), Martin Grünberg (1655-1706), Andreas Schlüter (1659-1714) and Jean de Bodt (1670-1745). The Zeughaus’ special place in the history of art is in no small way due to the high quality of its sculptural decoration. The most famous are the twenty-two keystones, in the form of giants’ masks, which Andreas Schlüter created for the inner courtyard.
Today, one can reach the Exhibition Hall through the courtyard. Transparency, light and motion are the architectural hallmarks of this masterpiece of urban planning with impressive perspectives and spatial interplay. The triangular body of the Exhibition Hall is joined to the Zeughaus by a glass foyer, out of whose sweeping façade a glass stairway emerges. Here I. M. Pei has used deliberate visual axes to create an architectural correspondence between historical and contemporary structure.
Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin: Unter den Linden 2, D-10117 Berlin, Tel. +49 (0) 30 20304444, www.dhm.de, info[at]dhm.de, opening hours: daily: 10 am-6 pm, Tourist-Information: www.visitberlin.de, +49 (0) 30 250025, information[at]visitberlin.de
phæno was designed by the Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid and was first opened in November 2005 after four years of construction – in which the boundaries of technically feasible manufacturing were achieved with the help of the latest construction technology such as self-compacting concrete, complex formwork geometry and specially developed glass fronts.
Hadid's preference for design spaces that are smooth and continuous is reflected in the phæno building. Particularly impressive is the avant-garde design expression of the building. The diversely shaped structure is full of strength, dynamics and drama. Rugged and angular parts alternate with soft and smooth curves.
The exhibition area consists of an open hall and an architectural landscape of gentle hills and valleys surrounding the construction where the exterior merges into the interior without threshold and without a definable limit. It is designed as a topographically diverse, continuous space that is characterized by ten cones and releases a lively and versatile urban space on the ground floor. The cones functionally link phæno with the city, and incorporate the entrances, shop, restaurants, Science Theater, and the forum of ideas and workshops.
phæno gGmbH, Willy-Brandt-Platz 1, D-38440 Wolfsburg, www.phaeno.de, Tel. +49 (0) 5361 89010-0, opening hours: Tue-Fri: 9 am-17 pm, Sat/Sun: 10 am-18 pm, Tourist-Information: +49 (0) 5361 89993-0, service[at]mpunkt-wolfsburg.de
MARTa Herford, located in the region of Lippe in East Westphalia, Central Germany, is one of the world’s most innovative museum buildings. In 2005, renowned US architect Frank Gehry designed a dynamic, vibrant spatial sculpture comprising lopsided, tumbled cubes whose deconstructivist tectonics makes them seem to have simply been "thrown into" the landscape. The solid sculptural building is characterized by curving walls, faced with the reddish-brown brick typical of the region. An undulating roof landscape of stainless steel spans the building horizontally and affords a strong overhang. Cylinder-shaped geometric shapes reminiscent of chimneys rise up above it. Despite the unconventional appearance Gehry has succeeded in his composition in incorporating a listed factory building into the Museum complex in architectural terms and in relating the entire ensemble to the surroundings. For example, the organic, undulating design language reflects both the movement of traffic on the street along the front side and the course of the Aa river, which forms the boundary line to the complex at the rear.
Fluctuating between exoticism and reference to the environs Marta challenges visitor expectations and provides a fascinating space for the exhibition program where contemporary art, design and architecture come together.
A cube, the Kunsthalle by Philip Johnson, Bielefeld’s architectural landmark donated by the Oetker family, looks like a sculpture. The front, made of red-coloured sandstone, opens up to the window panes and the asymmetrically arranged columns. Inside the building an amply dimensioned, triple-run staircase starts at the entrance hall winding its way up to the upper floors. Here, impressive insights into the almost converging exhibition rooms unfold. The walls that lunge out are also trimmed with sandstone; they mark the access into the exhibition rooms.
The education center on the ground floor which is suffused with light appeals to both children and adults. With about 900 square meters of exhibition space the Kunsthalle Bielefeld is a rather small museum but has a pleasant and friendly effect on the visitor. A public library, an auditorium for films and lectures with 244 seats, as well as a studio gallery for young artists, complete the impression of an outstanding building. The café with its spacious terrace invites the visitor to stay and overlook the sculpture park, which was restored in 2008 in accordance with Philip Johnson’s original plans.
Kunsthalle Bielefeld: Artur-Ladebeck-Straße 5, D-33602 Bielefeld, Tel. +49 (0) 521 3299950-0, www.kunsthalle-bielefeld.de, opening hours: Tue-Fri, Sun: 11 am-6 pm, Wed: 11 am-9 pm, Sat: 10 am-6 pm, Tourist-Information: +49 (0) 521 516999, touristinfo[at]bielefeld-marketing.de
Daniel Libeskind’s architectural concept for the Felix Nussbaum House provide a spatial context for the tragic life and work of the artist, who was born in Osnabrück in 1904, to make an overwhelming impression on the visitor. With a system of reference lines between Osnabrück, Berlin, Brussels and Auschwitz the architecture symbolises the constant movement and the increasing disorientation in Nussbaum’s life.
The building does not offer the familiar surroundings of a museum, for one to reflect on the artist’s works and graphics.. Rising or falling floors, unparallel running walls, windows with no right angles or partly transparent floors make visitors feel confused and create an atmosphere of ubiquitous uncertainty. Wood, cement and zinc have been used as building materials to show Nussbaum’s increasingly chilly path through life: from his sheltered youth through a time of displacement and threat to his violent death in Auschwitz in 1944.
The permanent exhibition "Felix Nussbaum – The painter" shows the most significant paintings and graphics from his creative periods. Works of other artists such as the internationally known Osnabrück citizen Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, one of Nussbaum’s contemporaries and a representative of constructivism, provide additional references to Felix Nussbaum and to the deconstructivistic architecture by Daniel Libeskind.
Felix-Nussbaum-Haus Osnabrück: Lotter Str. 2, D-49078 Osnabrück, Tel. +49 (0) 541 323-2207, www.osnabrueck.de/fnh, opening hours: Tue-Fri: 11 am-6 pm, Sat-Sun: 10 am-6 pm, Tourist-Information: +49 (0) 541 323-2202, tourist-information[at]osnabrueck.de