The New Jewelry Museum in Pforzheim

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HomeLearning CenterBusiness and MarketingThe New Jewelry Museum in Pforzheim
This article was originally posted on Userblogs on 10/17/2017.
By Katja PoljanacMore from this author

There is an excited feel to the atmosphere - the Jewelry Museum is preparing for the grand opening on March 11th, 2006. After renovation of the newly acquired rooms, the house will now offer an entirely restructured exhibition concept, freshly designed under the recently accepted directorship of Cornelie Holzach.

new Jewelry Museum
Cornelie Holzach, new Museum Director, with a model of the new rooms of the museum
Necklace, gold with traces of enamel, Greek, 4th century BC
Snake bracelet, gold, garnet, Greek-Hellenistic, 3rd to 2nd century BC
Parrot pendant, gold, diamonds, rubies, pearls, Southern Germany, around 1560/70
Portrait pendant: Electoral Prince Maxmilian I of Bavaria and Anna of Austria, gold, rubies, enamel, oil and copper, Munich, around 1600/50
Pendant watch "Stag Beetle", gold, enamel, pearls, rubies, Geneva, around 1800
Bracelet, mountain crystal, platinum, sapphires, diamonds, René Boivin, Paris, around 1925

The doors were not quite closed during the renovation phase. The exhibition "Of virgins and monsters" offers an exquisitely tantalizing taster. It features highlights of jewelry art from 1840 to 1940 from the Jewelry Museum collection and has been extended to run until January 8, 2006. Magnificent items such as the brooches "Octopus and Butterfly" by Wilhelm Lukas von Cranach, or "La Sève" by Maison Vever reveal in a fantastic language of images their suggestive magic before the viewers eyes. Historicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco are epochs of social transformation, characterized by prominent artistic personalities. Fabergé, Falize, Lalique, Fouquet, Fahrner and Treskow - all of them documented the exciting times of change and golden ages of art.

Brooch "Poisson", gold, mother of pearl, opals, turquoise, pearls, enamel, Georges Fouquet, Paris, 1900/01
Pendant "La Sève", gold, ruby, peridot, amethyst, emerald, topaz, kunzite, pearl, enamel, Maison Vever, Paris, around 1900/01

The collection

Cornelie Holzach kicked off her reign in office with ambitious plans for the future and an extended structural concept for the layout. After renovation of the Reuchlin House, the high-quality collection will have almost twice as much exhibition space, as the City Library will have vacated its premises. In future, the original museum rooms will form the "Treasure Chamber", reserved for historical jewelry. The newly developed rooms will focus to a greater degree on jewelry art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Containing almost 2,000 exhibits, the permanent exhibition will tell a uniquely dense and comprehensive tale of occidental jewelry across six millennia. Precious gems from Ancient Greek and Estruscian sources, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau form the main focuses. An important ring collection and artistic, historical pocket watches from the Philipp Weber collection enhance the exhibition with their own inherent accents.

Necklace, gold, enamel, attributed to Giacinto Melillo, Naples, around 1870/80

The collection of modern jewelry has a very special place. It clearly elucidates the parallel development of these styles of art with the applied arts in the postwar period to current jewelry creations. This demands that the museum management has a good feel for developments that may have long-term significance in the history of art. The courageous and trend-setting decisions that were taken at the time have since become undisputed classics: Gijs Bakker, Hermann Jünger and Bruno Martinazzi, to name but a few. Cornelie Holzach has a very sovereign finger on the pulse of the times with the extremely successful exhibitions she organized as stand-in director of the house, such as Peter Chang in "it's only plastic" or Warwick Freeman with ,,given".

Brooch "Pearl Pig", gold, freshwater pearls, steel, silk, David Bielander, Munich, 2003

"The tasks facing museums in modern times do not center solely on conservation", says Holzach, "Instead, they must act as seismographs to perceive even the slightest movements as early as possible and to bundle them in exhibitions". An integral part of her work therefore has a clear intent to offer young artists in particular a platform with which to advance themselves. This year, she was honored for this by being invited to join the internationally high-class jury for the Herbert Hoffmann Prize. This is among the most prestigious prizes in this field and is awarded each year at the International Crafts Fair in Munich.

Brooch, gold, Bruno Martinazzi, Turin, 1996

It is well worth taking a regular peek at the exhibition calendar for the museum events. Time and again, special temporary exhibitions provide exciting topics, flanked by the regular event program. Exotic side-tracks such as the feather jewelry exhibition by South American Indians in 2004 will by no means remain exceptions. Africa, Asia, America and Oceania now, for the first time, have their own, permanent department for interesting, ethnographic jewelry. The collectors Eva and Peter Herion provide the museum with numerous extraordinary pieces that they purchased on their travels through frequently untouched areas in these continents.

Bracelet, silver with cast plastic, Sigurd Persson, Stockholm, 1980

A review

Drawing on its vast stocks of significant originals, the Jewelry Museum Pforzheim is the only museum around the world dedicated exclusively to jewelry. Since its enthusiastic yet modest launch in the post-war era, supported by the ISSB the International Friends' Society of the Jewelry Museum Pforzheim, it now need not shy away from a comparison with the major institutions in Paris or London, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Naga necklace, mussels, glass beads, coral, bronze, Konyak Naga territory, India, 20th century

The museum's international renown should above all be credited to the spirit and dedication of Dr. Fritz Falk, the former Director of the Jewelry Museum. He retired in February 2004 after over 30 years in office. "Take the house out into the world and the world back into the house," was the main thrust of his work, he summarizes. Mutual exhibitions were organized and equipped in close cooperation with collections in Germany and abroad. Precious gems of inestimable value were sent around the globe, or were received in Pforzheim, which is and has remained time and again an insurance-related and logistic challenge. A legendary event is still the "Ornamental" in 1989 under his auspices. Based on the concept for the Documenta in Kassel, Pforzheim was, for 100 days, the main focus of international jewelry production. Visitors flocked to Pforzheim from Germany and abroad; this constituted visitor figures that still call out for a follow-up.

Foot circlet, silver, Rajasthan, India

The house

Constructed between 1957 and 1961 according to plans drawn up by Manfred Lehmbruck, the listed building attracts people enthusiastic for jewelry and for architecture also. Erected in the clear language of forms found in "International Style", the complex is dominated by two cubes with a refined exterior design, protruding directly into the City Gardens. The interior design is also a protected monument. The freely suspended, spiral staircase in the foyer is still an impressive eye-catching room sculpture. The new exhibition rooms, bathed in sunlight, belonging to the former library, offering an expansive facade of windows, perfectly suit the museum building.

Jewelry Museum in the Reuchlin House, Pforzheim, 1961, architect Manfred Lehmbruck (1913-1993)

The architect and museum designer Prof. HG Merz is entrusted with the renovation and redesign of the Jewelry Museum; he is also responsible for the successful redevelopment of the old National Gallery on the Museum Island in Berlin.

Foyer, suspended spiral staircase, interior designed by Manfred Lehmbruck

The museum cafe offers an opportunity for a quick rest after a leisurely visit to the museum. It is an inviting place to take a look at the numerous museum publications. Shopping urges and the desire to look through the products are sated in the museum shop or in the adjacent gallery with recent jewelry design. There is a lot in store for young visitors also. They have their own, special, children's jewelry museum, which also promises workshops with a lot of fun, games and excitement. A fascination with jewelry cannot be discovered early enough; multifaceted and striking, it is one of the most exciting moments in cultural history.

by Katja Poijanac

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Katja Poljanac

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