Kunsthalle / History

Our history -
an overview
Our History // When the museum was founded in 1909, the collection of the Kunsthalle Mannheim with its key works from Edouard Manet to Francis Bacon and its unique emphasis on sculpture was one of the most respected civic collections in Germany. Shortly after its founding, the Kunsthalle coined the expression “art for all” denoting its innovative educational approach. With its seminal exhibitions – usually with an international perspective – and its encompassing educational programme, the Kunsthalle Mannheim remains a strong cultural player in Mannheim and beyond. Today, the museum takes into focus contemporary expressions in sculpture.
The City of Mannheim celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1907. On that occasion, the Karlsruhe architect Hermann Billing erected the Jugendstilbau, which was inaugurated as the Museum for Art of the 19th and 20th century in 1909. The first director Fritz Wichert acquired works from French and German Impressionists as well as from Expressionists and thereby determined one of the museum’s principal areas of collecting. Besides paintings by Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet’s “The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian” (1896/69) is Wichert’s most important acquisition. He also set a national standard with his progressive educational programme and the foundation of the “Freier Bund zur Einbürgerung der Kunst in Manheim”. His successor, Gustav Fr. Hartlaub (1923-1933) was particularly interested in realistic post-war art which he named “Neue Sachlichkeit”. When the Nazi-regime took power, the Kunsthalle was also “cleansed of degenerate art” I 1937 and thus its most important works of modern art. Walter Passarge (1936-1958) collected in the uncontroversial field of [Werkkunst = übersetzen]. After World War II, Heinz Fuchs (1958-1983) and Manfred Fath (1983-2002) further strengthened the collection of contemporary painting and sculpture. The extension-building of the Mannheim-based architect Hans Mitzlaff was finally opened in 1983. Since the building no longer complies with international museum standards, it is going to be replaced by a Neubau of gmp-Architects, Hamburg, for which the building works start in mid-2014.

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