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The history of the artistic exploration of glass ranging from ancient Egyptian ear jewellery to works by contemporary glass artists is told at the Glasmuseum Hentrich. A specialist collection rivalled by few in the world, it is part of the multifaceted collection of the Kunstpalast.
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When the first glassmakers fused sand and ash, the result must have seemed like a miracle. They had succeeded in imitating radiantly colourful gems using simple raw materials. Since then nearly 4,000 years have passed, and to this day glass has remained a fascinating material in the realms of both high technology and art.
A particular strength of the Glasmuseum Hentrich lies in the comprehensiveness of the collection, which provides an almost complete overview of the history of glass art from Antiquity to the present. Many of the pinnacles in the development of glass art are represented by unique principal works held by the Glasmuseum Hentrich. Further, a number of areas have become a focus:
- Antiquity: Glass from the Roman period, predominantly from workshops in the Middle East
- Islam: the Middle East from late antiquity (Sasanian dynasty) until approx. 1400
- Middle Ages: one of the finest collections world-wide of utility and luxury glass from the Merovingian period to the Renaissance
- Renaissance to the 19th century: masterpieces of European glass art from the Venetian Renaissance, cut glass from the Baroque period through to Biedermeier and Historicism
- Art Nouveau: Works of French Art Nouveau are a particular focus of the Glasmuseum Hentrich.
- 1920–1960: the ascent of art glass-making from the 1920s onwards in Murano, the Netherlands and Scandinavia
- Glass design: documentation of European glass design after the Second World War
- Studio glass and contemporary art: untrammelled artistic approaches to glass, documented by a very comprehensive stock of approx. 600 works
Jan Fišar, „Um einen Schritt weiter“, 1999, 37 x 48 x 15 cm, Sammlung Frauke Thole, Museum Kunstpalast, Glasmuseum Hentrich, Foto: Studio Fuis, Köln
Gottfried Spiller, Walzenkrug, Berlin und Potsdam, Anfang 18. Jahrhundert, Höhe 14,6 cm, ehemals Sammlung Jantzen, Foto: Studio Fuis – ARTOTHEK
An estimated 400 individuals and institutions have bestowed gifts of glass to the Glasmuseum Hentrich since its inception. Thus, the quality of the collection is indebted to a considerable extent to the private commitment of our patrons. First and foremost, it draws from the collection of the Düsseldorf architect Helmut Hentrich (1905–2001), comprising some 3,000 objects with particular emphasis on Art Nouveau glasses. Assuring the museum’s world renown in this field once and for all was the addition of the collection of Art Nouveau glass of the Heidelberg entrepreneur Gerda Koepff (1919-2006). More recently, the collection of the Hamburg pharmacist Frauke Thole has placed an additional focus on the oeuvre of the Czech sculptor Jan Fišar (1933–2010).
Schale, Sassanidenreich (Irak/Iran), 5./6. Jh. n. Chr., Ø 10,9 cm, Schenkung Helmut Hentrich, Foto: Studio Fuis – ARTOTHEK