The Märkisches Museum Witten provides an overview of how German art has developed since 1900. However, the museum's origins date back to before 1900. The "Verein für Orts- und Heimatkunde in der Grafschaft zu Witten" association was founded in 1886. Its initial aim was to establish a collection of exhibits exploring local history. To this day, a 16th-century baroque sepulchral monument that was acquired shortly after the association was founded can still be found in the foyer of the museum, the so-called Strünkede-Gruppe.
From 1909 to 1911, a museum building was constructed in order to house the collection, in which the museum can still be found to this day. In the 1980s, the building was extended to provide space for temporary exhibitions.
The Märkisches Museum Witten's collection makes it very clear: those artworks which are included within the term "Informel" are very diverse. What the various tendencies do have in common, however, are their orientation towards the abstract and their dispensation with geometrical shapes. Instead of that which is depicted, it is the material, the paint and the canvas themselves which are the objects of focus – no longer remaining as invisible as possible. The creative process takes place spontaneously, without any precise concept of planning taking place in advance. Among other things, a key part of the museum's Informel collection are those works by Karl Fred Dahmen, Karl Otto Götz, Gerhard Hoehme, Fred Thieler or Emil Schumacher.
Another focus of the collection is Expressionism, with paintings by Max Pechstein, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Westphalian Expressionists, particularly Christian Rohlfs, being real highlights of the collection.
What's more, the museum also provides insights into how abstract art developed into Modernism, supplemented by exemplary works from Josef Albers or the ZERO group from Düsseldorf. Surreal tendencies from the post-war period and the figurative painting of the Critical Realism of the 1960s and '70s can also be found in the collection.
The temporary exhibitions place contemporary art from Germany and abroad into the context of the collection. Over the past few years, the museum has displayed a growing trend towards presenting contemporary artworks, for example with its "Möglichkeiten von Malerei" series. However, photography, video art and installation art are also being brought to the fore.
Today, the Märkisches Museum is managed by the city and forms part of the city's cultural forum, the Kulturforum Witten. In 2016, the building on Husemannstraße was expanded once again, meaning that it now offers space for both the museum and the city library. The Lesecafé which can be found there allows museum visitors to enjoy a coffee or, following their visit to the museum, to attend readings and other events.
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