Friday, June 29, 2007

Neue Sammlung, a historic grown collection

The "Neue Sammlung" (New Collection) was founded as a state museum of Bavaria in 1925 and represented a departure from the historically artificial focus of traditional arts and crafts museums. It has existed as the department of arts and crafts, which was intended as an extension of the Bavarian National Museum until this very day, and has established a reputation far beyond the borders of Bavaria and indeed Germany. The word "new" in the title was a reference to what the museum stood for, and has been of relevance ever since.

During the Third Reich parts of the collection were sold or gifted. After World War II the collection growed again especially with donations of big companies like Siemens or Olivetti. Even if the Neue Sammlung was a leading collection it had no museum to display its permanent collection. The communication was by special exhibitions and books. The books edited by Hans Wichmann are today an important reference and often the only source were some design objects are explained.

The turnover came with the opening of the museum in Nuremberg (1999), the resonace of visitors and media was great. After this success the Bavarian government gave the money for a second museum in Munich (2002), a third specialised in ceramics opened in Weiden.

Thessaloniki Design Museum, still a homeless museum

The Thessaloniki Design Museum is the personal work of Stergios Delialis, a Greek industrial designer. In its over 10 years, the museum, in cooperation with Greek and international educational and cultural organisations and museums, has organised more than 80 exhibitions along with lectures, seminars and educational programmes (eg. "American Mid-Century Design and "Helvetica" about functional objects in 2007).

A homeless museum
Until 1997 it was housed in ground floor premises on Mitropoleos Street. Today it is searching for a permanent home. Even so it remains active with exhibitions abroad, film shows and lectures.

The problem of homeless museums is well known: A+D in Los Angeles lost its home, the Neue Sammlung in Munich had until 2003 no permanent exhibition (even it it was the greatest design collection in the world). It is hard to understand why politicians do not support design museums. It seems to be easier to finance a traditional or archaelogic museum, even if design museums are more successfull.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"A + D opens final show before being evicted!"

Architecture+Design Museum in Los Angeles lost it's home. I found a webpost about actual developments on the Architecture+Design Museum in Los Angeles

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Corporate Design Museums: Vitra Design Museum

Making a tour to Basle in Switzerland you will have at least one argument going some kilometres back to Germany.
Vitra is not the only company with structures designed by star architects or with an own design museum. But at no other company industrial design and architecture are completly integrated into company's identity.

It is more the owner's passion for design than an PR attitude and you will feel it. Today the Vitra Design Museum owns the bequest of famous designers like Eames, Panton, Prouve and Girard and is internationally active as a cultural institution making research and exhibitions about design history and contemporary design as well.

Architecture: building by Frank O. Gehry, 1987
(extension:former fire station, architect:Zaha Hadid, 1993)
Objects: 3000 Objects

Chair Collection
Buildings of Vitra itself

Friday, June 22, 2007

Visiting MAK Frankfurt

The MAK Frankfurt (Museum für angewandte Kunst) is located on the Museumsufer (Museum pier) on the river Main. The first impression is the clear white and geometric architecture of this building ( an early work of Richard Meier) in an old park. The museum was until the late 1990s called Museum für Kunsthandwerk (M. for decorative Arts) and has a large collection of European, Oriental and Asian antiques eg. furniture, carpets, vases. The turn to a design museum is holding on, and next to industrial design, interface design is displayed.

Nobody will visit this design museum only to see the Panton chairs, old Apple computers or Alessi products. The argument to see the design collection is the smart selection made by the well know design author Prof.Dr. Volker Fischer. An other argument is that the visitor can easily compare with pre-industrial design products in the other rooms.

Last renovation: 1985
(new building by star-architect Richard Meier)
Objects: 30.000 Objects (design and art decoratif)

Bel-Air Lounge Chair (1981, Memphis-Group Milano)
Têtê-à-têtê Chair (1983, Colorcore Formica, NY)
Chippendale Chair (1984, Knoll itl.)

CNC-Lab Furniture (1995, HfG Offenbach)
Media exhibits

Visiting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

During a trip though the Netherlands in 2003 I visited this museum. Some months before it was renovated. Unfortunatly it has too many highlights in other departments like the famous Pieter Brueghel's tower of babel, so industrial design is secondary for visitors. The curators try to mix the exhibits to solve this, and the confrontation is well done. Design and art on the same wall seems to be the best concept to explain and display the difference between art and design.

To place different chairs in the cafeteria is a good idea toward a closer participation of visitors.

Virtual Design Museum of TU Delft

The IDE Virtual Design Museum of TU Delft was the first virtual design museum. I think I visited in 2000 first time and it was one of the rare online picture sources for design history at that time.

Today it is much easier to find good pictures, so the future requirements will be a good selection or a guided tour through the exhibits of design history. I hope they will do it, because their database is quite big now.

Link to the Virtual Design Museum of TU Delft

From a physical design museum towards a virtual design museum

The essay of Angeliki Dimaki made at Technology Institute of Athens deals with the potential of virtual design museums and the chance to make the stock part of collections accessable. The project was made for the Thessaloniki Design Museum.

Link to the pdf. document

Essay about the crisis of museums (in German)

Today I found this essay about the crisis of museums. Michael Parmetier critisizes the phenomenon to preserve everything old and unused. One paragraph is dealing with design museums and art museums. The author sais here that Some art museums are only displays for actual industrial production (Manche Museen für moderne Kunst sind nichts weiter als Schaufenster der aktuellen Produktion.)
Link to the article

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stedelijk is closed until end of 2008

The Stedelijk Museum in Rotterdam is closed until end of 2008. During the renovation a temporary location is installed at the Post CS building (near Central Station).
Source: their website in June 2007

Deutsches Museum, almost a design museum?

The Deutsches Museum (German Museum) is much older than industrial design, and it is not a design museum. It shows mostly technological exhibits but design interested people will find here famous industrial design things which were simply too large for other design museum or not id specific enough (Which design museum would display a locomotive or a ship, even if its design is important). But the love of its curators for large items has also disadvantages. The Museum on the Museuminsel in Munich (not to be confused with the Museumsinsel in Berlin) was one day too small and it opened a dependance on the Theresienhöhe (next to Theresienwiese, where the famous Oktoberfest takes place). So visit both and and enjoy their faible for large exhibits.

Neue Sammlung in the Pinakothek der Moderne

If a museum or collection in Europe could claim to have almost everything in industrial design and graphics it could be the institution "Neue Sammlung" with their museum "Pinakothek der Moderne" in Munich (other dependances with museums are in Nuremberg and Weiden).

Is this a good argument? It isn't! Who wants to see so many things (even if only a selection is displayed) ? But: Where will you have the chance to see original products by Christopher Dresser or rare products by Marianne Brandt? Come here, and ignore Eames chairs and Peter Behrens water kettles, see direct only the rare things!

FACTS (Munich)
Founded: 1925
Last renovation: 2002 (new building)
Objects: 70.000 Objects (all dep.)
Visitors: 1.000.000 p.a. (2003-2004, all dep.)


Museums are until today a display for historic collections and civic education. In near future the quality of museums will be rated more and more by their ability to offer their quality online. The time when museum websites were oly advertising sites for exhibitions and opening times will be over (I hope so) . Especially the design museums can benefit from feeding their websites.

As a visitor of I want to share impressions with other visitors. This source should prove the information on design relevant topics exhibited in museums and designmuseums in general.

Join us, you are welcome!