July 17, 2015 – January 10, 2016
“I am the only one who owns these things.” The Passion of Collecting

The museum offers 750 square metres of exhibition space and an intriguing insight into a particular cultural and art history that is stashed away in private and museum collections. The obsessive pleasure of collecting is illustrated here by more than one thousand objects. Collectors relish the thrill of the hunt, are delighted when they happen upon their desired object, lovingly cherish the new acquisition, compare it with previous finds, add it to their collection and delight in their hoard of possessions.

The exhibition draws on still life and interior decoration not only to display typologically related works of free and applied art, but also explores the different motives that drive the collectors. Thirty-three examples are on display, accompanied by up-to-date statistics) and recent interviews. They range from rough jottings to meticulously scientific categorizations, from a desire to salvage items carelessly discarded to strategies for boosting the pecuniary value of these artistic objects.

The focus of these collections is as varied as are the motives of their collectors, and occupies a spectrum that goes from 1930s’ cocoa jugs with abstract motifs to tastefully embroidered fabrics from the bazaar in Istanbul, from colored glass art made in Nancy around 1900 to squashed drinks cans become art on account of their accidental deformations.

The exhibition ends with an apposite illustration: the reconstructed home of a collector who specialized in items from the 1950s. His apartment is bursting with artefacts from the years of Germany’s Economic Miracle. Over the years, he hunted them out at flea markets, stored them at home and then placed them on display.

We speak of a collection when a number of objects are united by certain common features. Together they constitute a group, belong to a single species, are all of an ilk, or typify a category. They are categorized by criteria relating to a common function, similar shape, particular color, specific manufacturer, designer, theme, style or period in time. The criteria chosen determine the distinctive characteristics of a collection.

The wider a collector expands his or her focus, the more knowledge can be accumulated. Each new object that joins the typological family brings with it new insights. Step by step collectors become solid experts in the field. Collecting does indeed broaden the mind. Goethe confirmed this very idea in 1830, when he looked back on the pleasure he had always derived from collecting. He recounted that in the previous six decades he had spent at least 100 ducats a year buying curiosities. His collecting had never been whimsical or arbitrary, but always governed by a plan and an intention, and he had learnt something new from every item in his keeping.

Collecting is an art. The ability to single out an object from the sheer flood of objects that overwhelms us calls for sure instincts, a critical faculty, a feel for quality and a love of order. A collector will present the pieces as if in a Cabinet of Curiosities, rearranging them, comparing them, researching into their original functions and significance. When guided by aesthetic considerations, a display is an art form in itself. Artists often succumb to the joys of collecting because they enjoy the visual appeal of placing similar objects alongside each other.

Exhibition themes

  • Horse lovers: Porcelain and clay motifs
  • Weaponry for medieval maniacs: Halberds with spikes and axe-blades
  • The call of the hunt: Trophies galore
  • A gallery owner’s passion for non-academic art
  • From the flea market: The Economic Miracle as home decoration
  • Fascinating glass: Emile Gallé, Georg von Reichenbach and René Lalique
  • Bronze sculptures to tempt the collector
  • Drink, drink! Franz Ringer’s thirst for beer tankards
  • Religiosa: A host of guardian angels
  • Inspiration for artists: Cuna Indian fabrics
  • Cocoa jugs and cake platters: The lure of the pattern
  • Royalist memorabilia: King Ludwig II
  • Animal themes: World of the hare, birdsong, mouse heaven, lion symbolism, comic apes
  • Trademarks and brands: Studying civilisations
  • Erotica: Episodes and encounters, kitsch and cards
  • Jugs: From potpourri to Richard Riemerschmid design
  • Icons for the living room
  • Very Vespa: La Ragazza supersprint
  • An artist who collects his own works: Ignatius Taschner
  • Fabrics: Popular Ottoman art: In search of lost quality
  • Roxy Ladies et al.: Record sleeves
  • Quodlibet, or: Whatever takes your fancy
  • The cobalt connection: Crockery around 1930
  • Porcelain Pierrots: The circus lover
  • Figures from show biz: Gatherings of a gallery owner. Sculptures by Nicholas Monro
  • Asiatica: Travel mementos. Collected by Mr and Mrs Kohlndorfer
  • Spoons: A goldsmith’s fondness for multicultural diversity
  • Little locomotives: Model-makers’ must-haves
  • Trees: Aboretum. This collection cannot be displayed
  • Lamps: The light pool
  • Sneakers. Boom. The New Collection
  • Gift wrapping: More than 30 paper sheets will be printed for this exhibition. They are not merely collectibles, but also illustrate the collections on display