Leipzig, just a two hour drive from Berlin, is the location of the Grassi Museum. Here you will find one of the best collections of applied arts from the periods Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Bauhaus. It also houses a very fascinating and insightful permanent exhibition of applied arts from the antiquity till historicism.
The Museum für Angewandte Kunst is the offical German name for this museum, but everybody knows it as the Grassi Museum. It houses three museums of which the museum of applied arts is one.
In October 1874, the museum was opened in Leipzig’s old office house. It was called the Leipzig Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Arts and Crafts). The purpose of the founders was to make objects available to local artisans so they could copy the patterns and shapes. A very smart move that contributed to the prosperity of local craftsmen in Leipzig. In those early years of industrialization, objects and designs from previous time periods became popular again. This period, 1840 to 1900, is also known as historicism in Germany. For many years craftsmen copied foreign designs and objects with impunity. The Grassi museum has a Chinese wall decoration from a country house in Zehmen in her collection, completely made by German craftsmen.
Thanks to a large donation by Franz Dominic Grassi, a special building for the collection of this museum could be built. It opened in 1929 and yielded a total of 27,000m2 exhibition space. Due to various bombardments in World War II the museum had been seriously damaged. The museum’s collection could be saved, but the building itself was in ruins.
It was not until 1994 that restoration and reconstruction work began for the museum. It was so badly damaged that the famous staircase windows by Bauhaus artist Josef Albers and the red pillar hall had to be reconstructed. The renovations ended in 2012 with the opening of the last exhibition hall.
Today, you will find three museums in the Grassi Museum. An museum for music instruments, an ethnographic museum and this museum for aplied arts.
Highlights Art Nouveau to contemporary design
Since most of the visitors come to this museum for her extensive Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Bauhaus collection, I will start my review with that period.
Many of the objects in this collection come from the Grassi Fair. An applied arts fair held in Leipzig from the 1920’s till the thirties. Since 1997, the fair is held again every year in the month October.
At the entrance of the exhibition you will find an A4 booklet. It contains the translation of the various information boards and texts in several languages. Very useful when your German language skills are limited.
All the objects are put together based on style and region.
- Highlights from antiquity to modernism and Asian Art
This part of the exhibition starts with artifacts from antiquity and Roman times, but the highlights of the collection begins at the Gothic era. One of the more valuable pieces is a carpet from the 16th century with the legend of Tristan depicted on it. The altarpieces from the early 1500s, surrounded by images from that period, are also impressive.
- Italian room
Plan your visit
Admission to the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Künst is 8 euros. Every first Wednesday of the month the museum has free admission and children under 18 are always free to enter.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 – 18.00.
In addition to a shop, the museum also has a small café on its premises and behind the museum is an old cemetery. The old cemetery can be visited without an admission ticket.
For more information about the museum and temporary exhibitions, please visit the website of Grassi Museum.