Stronghold and Workshop: The New Bauhaus Museum in Weimar
Architect: heike hanada_laboratory of art and architecture, Berlin
Exhibition design: Holzer Kobler Architekturen, Zürich
Location: Stéphane-Hessel-Platz 1, 99423 Weimar (DE)
The Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is concealed behind a monumental concrete façade. The design by Berlin architect Heike Hanada presents itself as a reduced cube with few openings. Stability and massivity were fundamental considerations for this monolithic solitaire at the meeting point between urban space and the Schwannseepark. The Bauhaus concept is not perceptible in the architecture of the largely closed-off box. However, it will reveal itself in the museum’s program: the institution can be understood as an atelier and living place of learning for tourists, educational travellers and student groups, all of whom will be actively involved in workshops. The interpretation area is correspondingly located at a central point in the floor plan, i.e. above the public lobby on the first upper storey, directly beside the entrance to the exhibition spaces.
Weimar and the Modern
The two side-by-side collections of the Neues Museum and the Bauhaus Museum are considered to be a single unit and, in conceptual terms, closely related. A broad arc can be drawn from Friedrich Nietzsche, to Henry Van de Velde and the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus, which was located in Weimar for just a few years (1919-1925) before relocating to Dessau. Until then, Weimar had been known as a centre of Classicism, but the city sharpened up its image and adopted the Modern as well. According to Ulrike Bestgen, director of the Bauhaus Museum, the intention of the new Bauhaus Museum is to position Weimar “as a museum city in the context of the international reform movements from around 1900 in the fields of art, architecture and design” and to refine the Bauhaus context. The operation of the museum will demonstrate how these aims can be realized in the sense of the Bauhaus as a living atelier.
Dazzling Exhibition Architecture
The path through the Bauhaus Museum, whose collection has now grown to 13,000 objects, first concentrates on thematic questions about the “New Man” and “the school as experiment”. The second upper storey focuses on the workshops, particularly the stage department as a centre of creativity where the forms of cinema, traditional puppet theatre and film were explored. The failure of the school in Weimar and the critical question “what remains?” are addressed on the top floor in the example of the three Bauhaus directors Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Hannes Meyer. Unfortunately, the museum’s many written documents are not originals, but shown as facsimiles. Nevertheless, the refreshing exhibition design by Zurich’s scenographers Holzer Kobler Architekturen creates a timeless, yet radical frame for the pieces on display. As witnesses to history, the film sequences, wooden dummies, facsimile documents and furniture are presented on pedestals and tables as well as in showcases made of a reduced material palette of glass and steel. The windowless exhibition spaces may not afford any views of the surrounding area, but dazzling colours set targeted accents. With monochromatic areas in gleaming green-yellow and saturated pink, Holzer Kobler Architekturen have given the exhibition architecture an avant-garde touch that brings the Bauhaus into the present.