BAUHAUS Museum Dessau: A new destination in BauhausLand

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An armchair, a dress, and a collage: Many of the objects on display at the new Bauhaus Museum Dessau have never been seen in public before. That is why the museum opening on September 8th is one of the major highlights of the celebrations marking the 100th birthday of the Bauhaus design movement.

Like a soaring steel frame encased in glass, the building itself is eye-catching. Looking through the glass facade, Dessau’s city park is visible in one direction and the city center in the other; visitors feel part of the urban environment. Designed by addenda architects, the Barcelona-based firm, the Bauhaus Museum Dessau holds almost 50,000 objects, making it the world’s second-largest Bauhaus collection. To find out more, we caught up with Claudia Perren, the Director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.


Although some think of modernist architecture and building when they hear the word Bauhaus, the movement influenced design from fashion to furniture. “One example on display that I love is the Bauhaus dress, designed by Grete Reichart back in 1928, made from wool and white synthetic silk,” says Perren. Then, there is the legendary “ti 60” dressing table, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1926. “This was probably in the home of the painter and professor, Moholy-Nagy, when he lived in the nearby Masters’ Houses.”

Set on the museum’s upper floor, the so-called Black Box is a showcase for the collection. Here, significant objects include a collage called “The Glass Skyscraper” by Mies van der Rohe: “This reflects the start of a new, modern era.” By contrast, “The View” is a simple wood engraving published by Josef Albers in 1933. And there are also familiar classics, such as the armchair designed by Mies van der Rohe: “It belongs to a group of tubular steel furniture that was probably exhibited in the residential building designed by Mies at the 1927 Weissenhof exhibition in Stuttgart.”


So, what is the best way to explore? “Go directly to the upper floor to see the museum’s inaugural special exhibition. There are two staircases, but it is up to you, the visitor, to choose which one,” says Perren. “One staircase takes you back to 1926, the year when the Bauhaus building in Dessau opened. The other staircase leads to the 1976 room, the year when the Bauhaus Dessau collection was created in the former East Germany.” These are the two pillars of the museum’s collection. The main exhibition area is devoted to everyday life in the Bauhaus school itself.

Down on the ground floor is the “Open Stage,” a wide-open space. During the opening festival, Rita McBride‘s “Arena” will feature a “performance academy,” with dance, concerts and theater, as well as discussions and lectures. Also on this level, “Lichtspielhaus” is a dynamic lighting installation by award-winning New York artist, Lucy Raven. With different panels of colored glass, this interacts with the architecture of the building. Although this work is definitely 21st century, it references classic Bauhaus design from a century ago. The new Bauhaus Museum Dessau, along with the new Bauhaus Museum Weimar, which opened in April, are major attractions, not just for aficionados of Bauhaus, but for all visitors to Germany. 


Use the Weimar Card and Thuringia Card for discounted admission to the region’s main attractions, and the WelterbeCard to explore the Heritage Region around Dessau. In Jena, get the JENA à la CARD. 

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