3500 years of glass-making, on permanent exhibition in the shape of over 3000 fine works displayed over 1200 square metres of exhibition space – the statistics alone testify to the calibre of the Glasmuseum Hentrich. Alongside the great museums at Corning, London and Prague, the Hentrich Glass Museum is one of the world’s leading collections of glass
Exquisite objects from ancient Egyptian ear jewellery to the works of contemporary art glass-makers – the likes of Emile Gallé, Louis C. Tiffany, René Lalique, Stanislav Libenský and Dale Chihuly, in short, the very best of almost every era and region of glass-making is represented at the Glasmuseum. A specialist collection of a kind met only in a few other locations in the world, it is in the manifold collections at Museum Kunstpalast.
The beginnings of the Glasmuseum Hentrich lie in the design reference collection kept at the one-time Kunstgewerbemuseum – that had stood in Düsseldorf from 1883 until 1927. With the museum’s closure, the glasses in that collection entered the municipality’s new Kunstmuseum. In the 1930s and 1940s, the purchase of the Lückger and Jantzen collections lent glass, compared to the other items of arts and crafts in the museum, a profile of its own. From 1961 on, Düsseldorf architect Prof. Dr Helmut Hentrich (1905 – 2001) made yearly gifts to the Museum from his outstanding collection of Middle-Eastern and Art Nouveau glass. It was in his honour in 1990 that the Kunstmuseum renamed its Glassammlung or simply, Glass Collection, henceforth to be the Glasmuseum Hentrich. In accordance with the wish expressed in Hentrich’s will, the Glasmuseum exhibition area was given a handsome extension executed by the Swiss architects’ office of Steiner Sarnen. This was opened to the public in 2006.
The heart of the Glasmuseum Hentrich is the Treasure House, finished in a radiant red. Here, the visitor can follow a three-storey route of masterpieces through the entire history of artistic glass-making. Colours distinguish the various eras through a sequence of galleries.
The first feature to strike the eye after the Treasure House is the Sculpture Gallery, in which a selection of larger, modern works is presented. An area adjoining the sculptures is dedicated to the donors who have helped the Museum attain its present standing with generous gifts. In a Study Gallery in the basement, a further 2000 objects from the holdings are arranged by technique and other categories. The glass collection also has a video lounge, a ‘hands-on’ display of tools and glasses, and, most important, a small exhibition space for changing exhibitions.
Supporting and augmenting the overall panorama of the history of the art of glass at the Glasmuseum Hentrich are highlight areas, behind almost all of which stand the names of excellent collections or gifts.