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Hans M. Wingler (left) and Walter Gropius (right) - Opening ceremony of the Bauhaus Archive in Darmstadt, 1961
Hans M. Wingler (left) and Walter Gropius (right) - Opening ceremony of the Bauhaus Archive in Darmstadt, 1961

History of the Bauhaus Archive

The Bauhaus Archive was founded in Darmstadt in 1960 by Hans Maria Wingler, in order to give a new home to the material legacy of the Bauhaus which had been strewn all over the world after 1933. With the support of Walter Gropius and other members of the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus Archive started building up a collection in 1961 in the Ernst-Ludwig-Haus on the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt. Work began rapidly with the production of many exhibitions and catalogues. In 1968, the Bauhaus Archive substantially contributed to the exhibition "50 Jahre Bauhaus" ("50 years Bauhaus") which attracted wide international interest. The collection had by now grown so much that the idea of a museum building was born, for which Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, developed plans. The project to build the museum in Darmstadt failed, however the Land Berlin declared its readiness to take on the Bauhaus Archive, providing financial means together with a building plot for the museum.

In 1971, the institution moved to Berlin, with a first address in the Schloßstraße in Charlottenburg. The collection was growing rapidly and was presented in theme exhibitions. In 1976, the cornerstone for the new museum was laid, an event which attracted, once again, Bauhaus members from all over the world. The building was finished in 1978 and the museum moved in the following year.

Conditions for activities and exhibitions were now greatly enhanced. Comprehensive shows can be organised in parallel to the permanent collection, which occupies the larger part of the exhibition space. These have been devoted to the central Bauhaus artistsWassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Georg Muche or Herbert Bayer, to the Bauhaus architects (Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and to the specific Bauhaus workshops (pottery, metal, photography, and advertising). 1993 saw a large exhibition on the work of Henry van de Velde. Guest shows (i.e. 1988 in the Bauhaus in Dessau, or 1995 in Tokyo) lead to a better knowledge of the Bauhaus beyond the "homestead"; likewise, important exhibitions (i.e. 1983 the presentation of the Busch-Reisinger-Museum of Harvard University Art Museums, or 1987 the School of Design in Ulm) came to Berlin. The Bauhaus Archive is now not only treating historical themes from the Bauhaus context, but also actual questions concerning contemporary architecture and design.