One of the most important museums of applied arts in Europe, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg is situated within a 19th-century building that resembles a neo-Renaissance palace. It showcases china, furniture and silver from Northern Germany, applied arts from East Asia and an impressive collection of keyboard instruments and porcelain. There are works dating from the ancient era, right up to pieces from present-day craftspeople.
The Hamburg Museum of Arts and Crafts was modeled on London’s Victoria and Albert Museum when it was founded in 1874 and moved to its current premises on the Steintorplatz in 1877. Although partially destroyed by bombs in 1943 and the loss of many contemporary works during the Nazi campaign against “degenerate art”, it was rebuilt in the post-war years and its collection once again accumulated.
Highlights of the collection include vintage harpsichords, virginals and clavichords, as well as faience and porcelain dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Tile fragments from the mausoleum of Buyan Kuli Chan (1348–1368) in Bukhara, Uzbekistan feature amongst the museum’s Islamic works while an impressive ensemble of Art Nouveau furniture includes pieces acquired from the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.
More modern works at the Hamburg Museum of Arts and Crafts include Expressionist animal sculptures by Richard Haizmann and Bauhaus style pieces, as well as a maplewood sculpture by the founding member of the Die Brücke group, Erich Heckel. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also showcases changing exhibitions that reflect modern and contemporary cultures.