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New building the “most beautiful museum for modern art”.

The construction of the new Folkwang Museum in Essen is indeed a landmark project to inaugurate the year of the European Capital of Culture, RUHR.2010. It will give new impulse to the ongoing development of the Ruhr region as a cultural landscape with national and international appeal.

Conceived by David Chipperfield Architects, the new museum will serve as a grand backdrop for its prestigious collections. The project was financed entirely by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach foundation. Full responsibility for the project was assigned to a specially established general contracting firm: Neubau Museum Folkwang Essen GmbH.

The entire project has been scheduled to take no more than 38 months – from design and selection of the architect all the way to acceptance by the City of Essen, right on time for the start of its tenure as “European Capital of Culture 2010”. Though this may be a tight deadline for an endeavour of such scope and importance, it also serves as a perfect example of what is possible when project planning and organisation run like clockwork!

Historical perspectives.

Established in 1902 by Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874–1921), the museum was initially located in the industrial city of Hagen. After moving to Essen in 1922, it soon acquired a reputation as the “most beautiful museum for modern art” (in the words of Paul J Sachs, co-founder of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, following a visit). The 1930s and 40s were a difficult time for the Folkwang Museum. The Nazis branded much of its art as “degenerate”, confiscating the collection and selling it off to buyers all over the world.

During the heavy bombing of Essen in WWII, the various buildings of the museum suffered heavy damage. Since then, the Folkwang Museum has managed to re-establish itself as one of the most prestigious art galleries in Germany, with outstanding collections of 19th century painting and sculpture, classical modern, post-war art and photography.