The Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum is the successor of the Museum Folkwang (1902 - 1921), which made history for being the first museum for Contemporary Fine Art worldwide. Founded by the philanthropist Karl Ernst Osthaus, the Museum Folkwang was known as much for its radical engagement for its contemporary artistic avant-garde as well as for its revolutionary museum-conception, which served as the base for numerous social-aesthetic initiatives and interventions, all lead by the idea to enlighten and improve everyday-living by integrating life and art. Re-founded in 1945, The Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum stands self-consciously within the tradition today designated as "The Hagen Impulse". It views its task as lying equally in the preservation and scholarly documentation of its history as well as in a re-thinking of its objectives by an active engagement for international contemporary art.
In this sense as much a museum of art-museum''s history as well as a museum for contemporary art, The Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum addresses both general audiences and specialized professionals. It offers a permanent collection of extremely varied works of international modernist and contemporary art, which is presented with a particular focus on making the varied forms of perception and comprehension they represent graspable. Drawing on the specific properties of its building as much as on a playfully ironic development of museological thinking, The Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum makes the experience of a museum an enjoyable discovery of unusual or original conceptions of historical and current phenomena as well as issues from all areas of life.
The Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum is funded and run by the City of Hagen. Its estate comprises two landmark-buildings in the style of art nouveau - the downtown museum building with an extension built in 70ties, and the Hohenhof, a Gesamtkunstwerk conceived and built in 1906-08 by Henry van de Velde in the outskirts of Hagen. Furthermore, the Museum is in charge of or supervising other buildings of The Hagen Impulse, such as a villa (1911) and a crematory (1905-6) created by Peter Behrens, an artist''s colony built in 1906-12 by J.L.M. Lauweriks, and a worker''s colony (1906-10) built by Richard Riemerschmid. The collections of the Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum hold about 7.000 artworks of international origin. Since 1990 the assessment-policy focuses on specific themes: natural relations, awareness of history, trivial machines, gender, and museum of museums, the last featuring a branch of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, L.A., a space created by the Salon de Fleurus, N.Y., as well as a curator''s cabinet conceived by the Museum of Museums of Johan van Geluwe, Belgium. Further assets of The Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum are an archive holding about 40.000 documents related to the history of the Museum Folkwang and its affiliations as well as a library of about 30.000 books specialized on art and art-history.
For further details: projects, publications and initiatives see: www.keom.de
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