DESSAU, Germany – Founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in the German city of Weimar, the Bauhaus School went on to revolutionize art, design and architecture, and the centenary celebration of the movement culminates with the inauguration of a new museum, the product of a group of Spanish architects in Dessau.
The Bauhaus Museum Dessau, designed by the Barcelona-based architecture studio Addenda, opens its doors on Sunday after two years in the making with the exhibition Versuchsstätte Bauhaus: The Collection, which tracks the history of the renowned school of art.
Around 1,000 curated pieces tell the story, the ups and the downs, of Bauhaus in the eastern German town.
The Bauhaus architecture college moved here in 1925 after the original Weimar school closed down. It survived until the Nazis pressured the school to close again in 1932.
This particular exhibition does not just focus on well-known design icons and illustrious teachers, but rather on the school and its students.
It, therefore, takes the gaze away from the finished product and offers a glimpse into the process of creation and the ideas discarded along the way, Regina Bitter, one of its curators, told a press conference.
The collection at Bauhaus building in Dessau dates back to 1976 when it reopened as a cultural center in East Germany. By 1990, its collection already swelled to somewhere in the region of 9,000. Nowadays, it holds some 40,000 pieces, the second largest collection in the world.
For Rainer Robra, the chairman of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation the opening of the new museum in the city is necessary precisely because of the “wonderfully preserved collection.”
The brains behind the new museum’s design can be found in the form of Roberto Gonzalez, Anne Hinz, Cecilia Rodriguez and Arnau Sastre from Addenda, who saw off competition from 831 others to land the job.
The Barcelona studio convinced museum officials with their concept of a steel and glass casing around a black box, which will act as the main exhibition space, hanging above a transparent ground floor, offering space for a lobby and temporary exhibitions.
Speaking to Efe, Gonzalez said the building was designed to react to its surroundings, its transparency allowing it to change with the shifting seasons.
While they did not want to compete with the existing Bauhaus buildings in Dessau, he acknowledges that the museum building had to pay tribute to the Bauhaus School with “simple, clear, blunt geometry and diaphanous, flexible spaces.”
Asked what kind of Bauhaus influences could be found in the museum building, he said: “The flexibility of spaces, the use of normal, mass-produced materials, concrete, a facade of glass, a lot of metal but its more about the relationship between the spaces, the proportion of spaces, the relationship with the outside, which was very similar to what they did with modern architecture at the beginning of the last century.”
The building cost around 30 million euros ($33m) and is located in the central municipal park in Dessau.
The seven years that Bauhaus took root in Dessau coincided with a prolific output of architectural work, which is why most of its buildings, designed by the likes of Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bruno Fioretti Marquez, Georg Muche, Richard Paulick, Carl Fieger and Friedrich Karl Engemann, can be found here.
The museum will be inaugurated on Sunday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and there will be a speech from German-American literary theorist Hans Ulrich Gummbrecht of Stanford University.