A New Home for More Than 49,000 Bauhaus Works Opens in Dessau
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A New Home for More Than 49,000 Bauhaus Works Opens in Dessau

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By Duncan Nielsen
The Bauhaus Museum Dessau opens with thousands of never-before-displayed works.

This year marks the centenary of Bauhaus—and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is celebrating with a brand new home for its collection. Inside the new museum is a hovering, light-sealed black box, where Versuchsstätte Bauhaus conveys the design school's influential narrative with original furniture, lamps, textiles, and art. The public is now invited to engage with the collection for the first time ever.

The Bauhaus Museum Dessau is centrally located in the German city, and it will showcase thousands of works from the design school.

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Festivities kicked off at noon in Dessau on September 8 with a live broadcast of an invite-only grand opening. Afterwards, the public could take a $10 guided tour of the museum, and then—for free—access the floating gallery meant as a metaphor for the presence and ubiquity of Bauhaus in everyday life.

Barcelona–based Addendum Architects looked to both Mies van der Rohe and Bauhaus for the museum’s design. The glass structure is open and fluid, and it reflects the exposed materials and rectilinear forms found in the German design school's teachings. For Addendum, the challenge was to create something that feels transparent yet provides an enclosed space for the artwork.

The museum’s structure honors both Mies van der Rohe and Bauhaus design principles. 

The massive black box that hangs from the ceiling will host the foundation’s vast collection of Bauhaus works. Addendum architects wanted to create a space that felt open, so they housed the box in a transparent volume. 

"Our basic concept for the museum was to create a large flexible space so that exhibitions and workshops can take place without feeling restricted in any way by the architecture,’ says Roberto González of Addendum Architects. "[The box] had to provide an area of 16,000 square feet for the collection, protect the exhibits from direct sunlight, and offer ideal climatic conditions." The firm’s design bid won out against 830 others in a contest.

Below the suspended, black enclosure is the Open Stage—a miniature venue that will host an ongoing calendar of events. The platform will encourage an array of art and thought surrounding Bauhaus and modern design ideology, like interactive installations, lectures, film screenings, and performances.

On the museum’s ground floor, the Open Stage will host new works that build on staid principles taught by the school.

Centrally located in a park in Dessau—the museum's roof has a green space, too—the $30 million, 37,000-square-foot building was funded by both state and federal governments. The structure features triple-glazed glass with a baked-in sunscreen, and a retractable curtain provides shade on days with heavy sun. Pipes in the foundation can channel both hot and cold water to balance the building's temperature.

Addendum Architects’ "more with less" ethos (a spin-off of the Bauhaus’ "less is more" approach) shines through in the results. "The Bauhaus Museum Dessau shows," says Gonzáles, "that given the right combination of materials, space, colors, etc. you can achieve an outstanding result with limited resources. That’s very Bauhaus."

Related Reading:

100 Years of Bauhaus: What You Should Know About This Milestone Movement

The Bauhaus Bus Embarks on a World Tour to Celebrate the School’s Centennial