Berlin Treasure Houses. 150 Years of Berlin’s Kunstgewerbemuseum

Der Lichthof des Kunstgewerbemuseums im Martin-Gropius-Bau, Lorenz Ritter, 1881, Radierung © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum

The Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum, with its collection of applied and decorative art, was founded on 5 August 1867 – the first museum of its kind in Germany, and the third worldwide. Only eight months later, on 7 April 1868, it opened its first permanent exhibition in two halls in the former ‘Gropius Diorama’ in Stallstraße (today Universitätsstraße), at the intersection with Georgenstraße.

After passing through two provisional locations, the museum found a more long-term home, from 1881 to 1921, in a building designed by Martin Gropius specifically for the collections, situated in Prinz-Albrecht-Straße (today Niederkirchnerstrasse). From 1921 to 1950, the collection resided in the Berlin City Palace (Stadtschloss) and was known as the ‘Palace Museum’ (the palace itself was later destroyed by the East-German government).

After being relocated during the Second World War for their protection, part of the holdings were subsequently returned to West Berlin. They were placed in the Knobelsdorff wing of Charlottenburg Palace from 1963. In the same year, the museum and the part of its collection then located in East Berlin moved to their current location, the branch of the museum at Köpenick Palace. In 1985, the western part of the museum went on view at the Kulturforum, in a building designed by Rolf Gutbrod.

The exhibition ‘Berlin Treasure Houses’ outlines this 150-year development with seven display boards and a number of works of art that played a significant role in the museum’s own history. The display thus provides a glimpse of the Kunstgewerbemuseum’s shifting role over time. By focusing on the historical sites of the museum, the exhibition also traces the history of the city of Berlin, seen through the eyes of a museum on the move.

12.01.2018 to 29.04.2018
Kunstgewerbemuseum
Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin
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