The new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar opened in April 2019 to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Staatliches Bauhaus. It charts the first phase (1919–25) of the most important design and art school of the twentieth century, showcasing the treasures of the oldest Bauhaus collection in the world. The museum ties the story of the Bauhaus to the historical and urban context of the Weimar Republic and National Socialism. The space is designed by Heike Hanada, winner of the 2012 architectural design competition, working in collaboration with Benedict Tonon, and becomes the latest museum of the Classical Weimar Foundation (Klassik Stifung Weimar).
There has been a Bauhaus Museum in Weimar since May 1995 when it was located in the former Kunsthalle at Theaterplatz, but in the long run that offered too little space. In the search for a suitable location for the new building, the choice fell on a site near the Weimarhallenpark, directly opposite the former Nazi-era Gauforum and next to the Neues Museum Weimar, which specializes in early modernist art and thus ideally complements the Bauhaus Museum.
The historically sensitive location of the new museum offers a unique opportunity to develop a “Weimar Modernist Quarter” between Goetheplatz, Nordvorstadt, and the area around the train station. There, three contemporary layers of modernism in Weimar meet: the trio of the park, cultural, and sports’ area to the west of the new museum stand as a project of the Weimar Republic, the Gauforum a legacy of the National Socialist state, and the student dormitory known as Langer Jakob (Tall Jakob) represents the urban planning of the GDR. The new museum weaves these layers into a common narrative provoking fruitful discussions.
A minimalist cube, the Bauhaus Museum Weimar transforms Gropius’s basic idea of geometrically clear and unfussy architecture into a contemporary form. The monolithic concrete slabs are structured by twenty-four bands of LEDs: they give the building an even, horizontal rhythm, and when night falls and the LED bands begin to glow, a certain magic. From outside, one can barely guess that the façades conceal five levels that transition into open spaces two-stories tall.
Visitors begin their tour in a spacious foyer, which is accessed by the main entrance on the city side and also via a large terrace on the lower story (which connects to the lower-lying Weimarhallenpark). This entrance hall is the starting point for all routes through the museum. Cascading stairs in a cleverly-designed coordinate system provide orientation; horizontal and diagonal lines of sight through the open space direct attention to the individual functional areas. The exhibition spaces, which are lit in the conventional manner exclusively by artificial light, feature floors and walls covered with lime slurry, whose style and haptics conform to the outer shell of the new building. The exhibition design offers deliberate contrasts with metal, glass, and textile materials. [OH]
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Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism
Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.
Located at the founding place of the Weimar State Bauhaus, the museum will evoke the early Weimar phase of the most important school of art and design of the 20th century. The exhibition is centered around the oldest collection of Bauhaus objects worldwide and combines the history of the Bauhaus with questions of current and future ways of living together.