Essen: Art and Collecting instead of Manufacturing

When in the middle of the twentieth century, the demand for coal began to fall precipitously, in front of the German town Essen, the entire modern history of which was somehow connected with the development of coal fields, arose a very specific question - how to actually survive and keep going?


david chipperfield museum


Essen is a "classical" European city, that has undergone all stages of development, just like it's written in the school book of history. In the ninth century there appeared a monastery, then - a settlement of merchants, which in the thirteenth century, was surrounded by a stone wall and turned into the city. Coal was always mined here, but the dramatically increased demand on the coal in the nineteenth century gave a powerful impetus to for the development of Essen, making it one of the main industrial centers of Germany.

The transformation to the museum-city, which Essen has become in the recent years, of course, did not happen suddenly. The largest museum in Essen - the Folkwang museum - was transferred to here with it's whole collection in 1922 from the neighboring town - Hagen. The fact is that the Hagen's municipality was not able to buy the famous private collection of Karl Ernst Osthaus after his death. Wealthy enthusiasts from Essen found fifteen million marks and purchased one of the most outstanding at the time collection of modern art. They gave this collection to the municipality, which placed it out in the building of the local art museum. A few weeks ago, the Folkwang Museum moved to the new spacious complex, that also was built thanks to the donations of a devoted benefactors. In this collection there are hundreds of incredible exhibits: large collection of German and French paintings of the nineteenth century, as well as the unique works of Vincent van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, modern art, expressionism, cubism and abstract art. A special pride of the museum - a collection of three hundred forty thousands of posters and advertising leaflets - and not only German. Here, for example, you can see the originals of a famous posters by Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the real gems of the American "pin-up".


folkwang museum


Another place in Essen, worthy of attention - the museum of design - Red Dot. Actually, the Red Dot is the a prize which is awarded annually to the creators of those items, that had surprised the world. Samples of these items come to Essen, to the museum building, that was placed on the site of the last coal mine - Zeche Zollverein Schacht XII, that was closed in 1986. In 2001, UNESCO recognized the building of a Red Dot museum one of the most impressive industrial projects of the twentieth century and included it in the list of world cultural heritage.


museum folkwang front


Essen is the city of reading and singing. The huge city library and a modern informational center is visited annually by at least eight hundred thousand citizens. Here in Essen you will also find one of the best music schools in Germany - among five thousand five hundred students there are talented young musicians from different countries. For the lovers of opera and ballet, there are two theaters - old and new. Among the architectural points of interest it would be good to mention the Münster church in the central square, built in 850, and the cathedral of the fourteenth century, that was rebuilt from the ruins after the Second World War. Also Essen is famous with it's antique shops, good food, and the numerous outdoor festivals that are taking place here all year round.




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