From Wrocław to New York and back

Hans Poelzig and the style of material

exhibition runs till 2nd of October, 2022

The Museum of Architecture in Wrocław invites you to an exhibition devoted to the life and work of Hans Poelzig – one of the most important architects of the 20th century, architectural theoretician, educator and animator of Wrocław artistic life.

The exhibition was sparked by the donation of a furniture set designed by Hans Poelzig for the Wrocław Brieger family to the collections of the Museum of Architecture in 2020. The set, which for years furnished the New York apartment of Professor Fritz Stern, is a unique example of applied art designed by this outstanding architect. It has never been exhibited to the public before, only its photographs were published in the exhibition catalog ‘Hans Poelzig in Wrocław. Architecture and art 1900–1916’, which presented a selection of Poelzig’s work against the background of Wrocław artistic life in the first decade of the 20th century. Curators of the current exhibition – Jerzy Ilkosz, the Museum director, and Maria Zwierz – decided to take a closer look at the architect’s accomplishments through the prism of his attitude towards craftsmanship, which constituted an extremely important element of Poelzig’s work, both as a designer and a teacher.

The exhibition From Wrocław to New York and back. Hans Poelzig and the style of material includes designs and works of applied art from the period of Poelzig directing the Royal School of Art and Crafts in Wrocław, renamed the Academy of Arts and Crafts in 1911. His education activities emphasized free development of each student’s creative abilities. To this end, he introduced individual education in craft workshops under the supervision of a chosen master. During his classes, he encouraged his students to design individual interiors adapted to a specific place and different each time. He paid much attention to the arrangement of residential interiors and designed furniture for them together with his students.

In addition to the set designed for the Brieger family, the exhibition also features elements of the original furnishings of the Wedding Hall in Lwówek Śląski Town Hall, archival photographs, and interior designs and furnishings for the architect’s own home at 2 Chopina Street (demolished in 1971), architectural designs from the Museum collection (including concepts of a model single-family house created for the 1904 Arts and Crafts Exhibition), exhibits from the collection of the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin, as well as paintings and textiles from the National Museum in Wrocław. The exhibition also includes the film ‘Golem’ directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, with sets designed by Poelzig in 1920.

From Wrocław to New York and back

The furniture donated by Frederick Stern and Katherine Stern Brennan was designed ca. 1911 for Oskar Brieger, a Wrocław professor of medicine. The Jewish Brieger family had been associated with Wrocław and its University for many generations. One of Oskar’s sons, Peter, was an art history professor at the University of Wrocław, and after emigrating in 1936 he lectured at the famous Courtauld Institute of Art. The other son, Ernst, was a physician, a professor at the University and director of the tuberculosis hospital in Pracze Wrocławskie. Their sister Käthe Stern was an outstanding educator married to a physician Rudolf Stern. Käthe and Rudolf Stern’s son, Fritz, was one of the most prominent American historians and received an honorary doctorate from Wrocław University in 2002. The furniture designed by Hans Poelzig for Oskar Brieger was inherited by the family after his death and remained in their possession until 2020. Because of their Jewish background, most of the family left Germany after the Nazis came to power. Käthe and Rudolf Stern settled in New York in 1938, taking some of the family furniture with them. Their son Fritz, a professor at Columbia University, furnished his New York apartment with the set.

In February 2020, the Museum of Architecture received information from Professor Hana Červinkova that the family of Professor Fritz Stern, who died in New York in 2016, wanted to donate furniture designed by Hans Poelzig to European museums. We immediately recognized the unique opportunity to enrich our collections with objects of inestimable artistic and historical value, and that every effort should be made to return them to their place of origin – Wrocław.

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Maćków Pracownia Projektowa exhibition

Current exhibitions

exhibiotion open till October 30th, 2022

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the architectural firm and the Honorary SARP Award for 2020 for its founder - Zbigniew Maćków - have become the starting point for an attempt to catalog the architectural projects, as well as an opportunity to ask ourselves a few - not only professionally important – questions. Therefore, we decided to treat the invitation to organize an exhibition as another learning opportunity - with the conviction that if we do not find answers to “big questions” here, they are still worth asking.