Dessau opens museum honouring the Bauhaus school

Dessau opens museum honouring the Bauhaus school
Courtesy Bauhaus Museum Dessau.
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This has been a big year for Dessau as people around the world have celebrated the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus. The influential school of architecture was based in the German town and just over a week ago, Dessau opened the doors to a new museum dedicated to the movement. On September 8th, the Bauhaus Museum Dessau began welcoming visitors, which now showcases a unique collection of works associated with the Bauhaus movement.

The new museum, which took more than two years to complete, was designed by addenda architects, a Barcelona-based architectural firm. A simple, sleek, and low glass building now sits where the original school, which was designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, once did from 1925-1932. The new museum undoubtedly reflects the principles of the Bauhaus but ‘[n]othing about the new building was intended as a direct quotation from the outset,’ said Roberto González. ‘But as architects from Barcelona, we have always had a close relationship with Mies van der Rohe.’

Boasting 5,500 square-metres, the large building offers two flexible spaces. The ground floor is intended for temporary exhibitions while the above floor, dubbed the ‘Black Box’ for aesthetically obvious reasons, offers gallery space for the permanent pieces of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (BDF) collection. Now including around 49,000 items, the BDF’s collection began in 1976 and is now the second largest in the world beat out only by Berlin. With the opening of the museum, more than 1,000 works are now on display, ranging from teaching notes to drafts and prototypes to student works as part of an exhibition titled ‘Versuchsstätte Bauhaus.’

The inaugural exhibition walks visitors through the development of the school and the story of those who worked in it and attended it. Director of the BDF, Claudia Perren said that the museum is not only a ‘venue for the presentation of our internationally renowned collection, but also a new cultural venue for the City of Dessau-Roßlau, and the State of Sachsen-Anhalt.’

The Bauhaus school was begun by Gropius in April of 1919 after he took over the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar from Henry van de Velde. The school taught a revolutionary style of architecture that focused on pared-down principles and sleek design that rubbed against the grandiosity of much architecture that preceded the school. Bauhaus attracted a number of artists and architects that would become staples in their fields including Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Otto Bartning. In 1933, the Bauhaus school ceased operation due to the ramp up to World War I. However, its legacy persisted through a number of its practitioners who fled Germany and began lives in numerous other countries, including England and the United States.

Even through its short-lived existence, the Bauhaus made a massive impact on the 20th century and that can now be experienced at Dessau’s new museum, which is a shining marker for the 100th anniversary of the school’s opening.