A big aspect of the Osthaus Museum's programme is its continuous analysis of the latest trends in the art world. Museum director Tayfun Belgin also describes this approach as the "Folkwang impulse", referring to the museum's patron, Karl Ernst Osthaus. This is because bringing new artistic impulses to Hagen was one of Osthaus' chief concerns – as early as at the beginning of the 20th century.
Osthaus encouraged well-known architects and artists to come to Hagen and invested a great deal of money in the Museum Folkwang in Hagen. He did this to educate the local people in aesthetics and to bring some beauty back to the industrial city. After Osthaus' death, the collection was sold to the city of Essen and used as the basis for the Museum Folkwang which was later established there.
The Osthaus Museum moved into the building which used to house the Museum Folkwang to act as its successor. Since being founded in 1945, the building, commissioned by Osthaus and designed by Carl Gérard, has been used as a base from which to present the museum's collections of classic modernist and contemporary art.
To this day, some of the art nouveau interior fittings, designed by Henry van de Velde, still exist in their original state. The remaining interior fittings have been replicated. This allows visitors to still get a feeling for the museum's original atmosphere.
George Minne's fountain can still be seen in the main hall in the form of a replica made by Paul Kussman. Though the original is now located at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, the Hagen version of this work of art is the only one that guests are actually allowed to sit at.
Today, the main focus of the collection is on Expressionism and art dating from 1945 to the present. An entire room is dedicated to Christian Rohlfs, who lived and worked in the museum building for many years, and whose work also inspired Emil Schumacher from an early age. Schumacher received his own museum in the form of the Emil Schumacher Museum, which opened right next door to the Osthaus Museum in 2009. The Osthaus Museum has approximately 700 works from Christian Rohlfs in its possession and is also home to the Christian Rohlfs Archiv [Christian Rohlfs Archive].
The displayed collection is expanded upon through the use of temporary exhibitions. These primarily focus on contemporary art, often with a view to promoting the work of young artists.
250 m² in size, the "Junges Museum" provides visitors both young and old with a great deal of exhibitions where they can join in, as well as initiatives for exploring art in a practical manner.
Something which is definitely worth seeing: Sigrid Sigurdsson's room installation "Architektur der Erinnerung". This "archive" allows visitors to look at documents from contemporary history. Display cases, boxes and folders invite guests to browse the documents and go on a journey through time. What's more, visitors can also contribute to the archive by writing their own stories in the travel books. This makes the installation, whose name translates to "Architecture of Memory", a collective memory which continues to grow.
Hohenhof, an outpost of the Osthaus Museum, is the perfect place to delve into the life story of the man after whom the museum is named. Located in Hagen's district of Eppenhausen and boasting plenty of original features, the former residence of Karl Ernst Osthaus and his family invites guests to stay and linger a while.
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