Berlin is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus School of Art and Architecture with a major exhibition that will run from July 22 to October 4, 2009, at the Martin-Gropius-Bau. The "Bauhas Model" brings together, for the first time, objects and artifacts from Germany's three major Bauhaus institutes: the Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design Berlin, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, and the Foundation of Weimar Classics.
If you're planning a trip to Germany, you can binge on Bauhaus in Berlin and easily make day trips to Dessau and Weimar, the other two Bauhaus sites that have UNESCO World Heritage designation. For those interested in modern art and architecture, this is an unprecedented opportunity to explore the movement that revolutionized design.
Base yourself in Berlin for at least a couple of days. Summer and fall are great times to visit the buzzing capital of Germany. Berlin remains one of the most affordable cities in Europe and offers a world-class menu of museums, cultural events, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. This year, in addition to celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus, Berlin is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Getting around on the city's extensive U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (light rail), and bus system is remarkably easy. Buy a 48-hour Welcome Card for €16.50 and you can use any form of public transportation you want, plus get reduced-price entry to dozens of Berlin's superlative museums.
But if you're Bauhaus-bound, make the blockbuster Bauhaus show at the Martin Gropius Bau, Niederkirchnerstrasse 7 (www.gropiusbau.de), your first stop. The gallery is open from 10am to 8pm every day except Tuesday. Admission is €12; rent an audioguide for an additional €3.50, and then stroll through the galleries and marvel at the still-fresh modernity of these design classics (furniture, art, textiles) that sprang from the interdisciplinary workshops in the extraordinary Bauhaus school.
Founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus was forced to move to Dessau and finally to Berlin before it was banned by the Nazis in 1933 for being "too modernist". But in its brief and beleaguered 14 years of existence, the Bauhaus managed to revolutionize architecture and design by sweeping away the banal historicism that dominated architecture and the kitschy over-decoration of everyday objects and replacing them with unadorned exteriors and clear forms, and focusing on the utility of the object. Everything from houses to factories and cradles to teapots was radically re-imagined, and the Bauhaus creations that emerged have now become icons of modern design. Teachers in the school included artists like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, and architects like Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. The Museum of Modern Art in New York will celebrate its 80th anniversary by staging a revised version of this exhibition from November 8, 2009 to January 18, 2010.
Once you seen the "Bauhaus Model" show, head over to the Tiergarten neighborhood for a look at the Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design, Klingelhöferstrasse 14 (tel. 030/254-0020; www.bauhaus.de). Completed in 1979, this building is one of the last works of the great Berlin-born architect Walter Gropius, who founded the Bauhaus school in 1919. In 2009, as part of the Bauhaus anniversary celebrations, the building was restored to Gropius' original design. The museum inside is closed until October, but the café and the gift shop, which sells trademarked Bauhaus creations, are open daily except Tuesday from 10am to 5pm.
Weimar (www.weimar.de) and its Bauhaus remnants are an easy 90-minute train ride from Berlin in the heart of the verdant Thuringian countryside. There are many reasons to visit, or stay overnight, in this jewel of a town, which was the home of Goethe, Schiller, and Liszt in the 19th century and countless artists in the 20th. Here, at Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse, amid the predominantly neoclassical fabric of the town, stands the first Bauhaus school, designed by Henry van de Velde. You can step inside and look around, but if you want a tour of the building, including the reconstructed office of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, contact Bauhaus University Weimar (tel. 03643-580; www.uni-weimar.de/bauhaus09). After visiting the school, stroll through the leafy park in the center of Weimar to visit the landmark Haus am Horn, designed by Bauhaus architects Gropius and Adolf Meyer to showcase the school's first exhibition in 1923. This small modern villa offers a rare glimpse of Bauhaus domestic architecture.
Once it was forced to leave Weimar (mostly for financial reasons), Gropius moved the Bauhaus School to Dessau in Saxony. From Berlin, you can reach this town in the former East Germany in about one hour by train. Dessau is a must for anyone on a Bauhaus architectural pilgrimage because it's here that you can see the "new" Bauhaus school and "master's houses," now on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. A few rooms in the former Bauhaus student residence can be rented out.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Germany Forum today.