After extensive renovation work, the Museum of Decorative Arts at the Kulturforum has been presenting itself in a new guise since 22 November 2014. The building, designed by Rolf Gutbrod in 1966 in the spirit of post-war modernism, was extensively redesigned by the architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi. The foyer and staircase now appear clearly structured with white fixtures. The cash desk, information desk and cloakroom are arranged as cubic fixtures and stand back in the room due to their reduced formal language. The staircase is unified by the generous sheathing of the horizontal stair elements and at the same time its sculptural character is emphasised.
Image above: 1960s dresses by Jean Patou, Christóbal Balenciaga and Jean Dessès in the Fashion Gallery of the Museum of Decorative Arts © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum / Achim Kleuker.
A memorable wayfinding system with red super signs clarifies the spatial structure of the building and guides visitors through the house. The exhibition rooms for the collection areas Fashion, Design and Art Nouveau to Art Deco were also redesigned.
A house for art, fashion and design
As a house with a variety of exhibits, styles and materials, the Museum of Decorative Arts offers various thematic tours. Right in the entrance area, the new fashion gallery beckons: in darkened rooms with built-in large showcases, around 130 costumes and just as many accessories are staged as in a shop window arcade. The visit is like a walk through 150 years of fashion history, past the creations of famous couturiers such as Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. This is the first time that Berlin has had a thematically comprehensive permanent exhibition on fashion. The presentation is based on the international collection of Martin Kamer and Wolfgang Ruf, which was purchased in 2003.
Bauhaus classics from the design collection
Another highlight is the newly installed design collection in the basement. The top-class selection includes Bauhaus classics as well as designs by contemporary star designers Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck or Konstantin Grcic. A chair gallery complements this tour and shows a selection of innovative designs from the 19th century to the present day. Like hardly any other object, the type of chair enables an examination of the different positions of design. The palette ranges from simple and functional to luxurious and fantastic designs detached from function.
Design and object art from the Middle Ages to Art Deco
On the ground floor and the upper floor, the Museum of Decorative Arts provides a systematic overview of the masterpieces of European design and object art from the Middle Ages to Art Deco. On the ground floor, for example, medieval treasure art with the famous Guelph Treasure and glittering Renaissance objects such as the Lüneburg Council Silver are on display. On the upper floor, ornate cabinet cabinets and Kunstkammer objects demonstrate the passion for collecting of the Baroque period. David Roentgen’s legendary large cabinet marks the beginning of classicism.
The Art Nouveau to Art Deco department is presented in four newly installed cabinets. The cabinets, built in as a “room within a room”, offer stages for pieces of furniture and outstanding exhibits on the inside, while showcases for further objects are embedded in the outer walls. The thematically structured exhibition areas show artistic trends between the Paris World’s Fair in 1900 and the end of the 1920s. The intimate cabinets provide an ideal stage for René Lalique’s jewellery, Henry van de Velde’s furniture or César Klein’s stained glass windows.
A permanent exhibition of the Museum of Decorative Arts of the National Museums in Berlin.