Why was glass so valuable in the past? Why was it difficult to make transparent glass? The eight “Glass Museums” in Bavaria deal with such questions. We present two of them: The Arts and Crafts Collection of the Veste Coburg Art Collections and the European
Bavaria's Glass Museums
The vulnerable, fragile material has fascinated not only artists for centuries, but all of us. And this despite the fact that we are often quite careless with glass in everyday life. We met Dr Sven Hauschke, Director of the Art Collections of the Veste Coburg, and talked to him about the Arts and Crafts Collection at the Veste and the European Museum of Modern Glass. And of course about what fascinates him personally about glass.
The glass expert studied art history in Augsburg and London and, following his doctorate, completed a traineeship at the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg. Several research projects followed in Nuremberg. Since 2009, Hauschke has been the Director of the European Museum of Modern Glass in Rödental as well as the Arts and Crafts Collection at the Art Collections of the Veste Coburg. He has been Director of the art collections for two years.
Delicate, transparent glass art
A fragile material, intricate patterns, distant lands: the valuable glass objects on display at Veste Coburg were primarily collected by Duke Alfred of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha, who lived in the second half of the 19th century.
He owned 1100 pieces of glass alone, which he brought back from his travels. Hauschke, Director of the Art Collections of the Veste Coburg, is always pleasantly surprised at how much such glass art from all over the world attracts and touches people. He says during the tour: “Glass can be incredibly emotional. There was one visitor who confessed to our supervisor that she cried in front of an object.”
Hauschke himself is moved above all by the diversity of glass – the colours, the transparency, the many possible uses. It reminds us that we can hardly imagine life without glass. “An aquarium, for example, would only be half as exciting without glass, and our smartphones are also unthinkable without high-tech displays.”
He enjoys the contact with the internationally working artists, says Hauschke, it is a welcome change from the many other tasks.
The valuable Hedwig glass
A few years ago, the glass expert, who finds his workplace at the Veste incomparable, was even allowed to briefly hold one of his absolute favourite objects in his hands in connection with a temporary exhibition: the Hedwig glass, which is a good 1000 years old. A special moment.
Normally, you are only allowed to look at the valuable piece from a proper distance, but Hauschke thinks: “You really have to see this – the Hedwig glass is perhaps the most important post-antique glass ever. It was once venerated as the glass of St. Elisabeth. It is also proven to have been in the possession of Martin Luther and is the main item in our diverse collections.”
And in the European Museum of Modern Glass, Sven Hauschke recommends that visitors linger longer in front of the artwork “Music” by Vĕra Lišková. The large sculpture consists of countless glass tubes fused together, ending in a point and arranged in a ring.
The work, made in 1977, is formally reminiscent of organ pipes. Hauschke: “This piece stands out not only because of its unusual size, but also in terms of the artistic idea and its technical realisation in glass made from industrially manufactured glass tubes with an extremely complex assembly technique.”
A door opener to art
Hauschke is pleased that especially such contemporary objects can be a door opener to the world of art for many people. He believes: “Glass has a positive connotation. Many of our visitors would perhaps never go to a museum of modern art. But about the material glass, which everyone knows, they become curious and enter the European Museum of Modern Glass. They are then fascinated by the range of objects on display, their aesthetics, the technical refinements and the stories told. They often forget the time. And you can't really pay a museum a greater compliment as a guest.
... by Sven Hauschke
Take time for a stroll through the Hofgarten, from where you can look out onto the Schlossplatz, one of the most beautiful squares in Germany. Ehrenburg Castle and performances in the state theatre built under Duke Ernst I are also worth seeing.
Franconian-Thuringian border region
It attracts with almost untouched nature, deserted roads and varied altitude profiles – I like to take a bike tour there sometimes. The pleasure region Coburger Land offers many delicacies in this respect.
We are often drawn to hike in the Franconian countryside. The Staffelberg in particular, with its Celtic history, is a magical place. The view of the Upper Main Valley, Banz Monastery and the towers of Vierzehnheiligen is incomparable. In addition, the beer garden in front of the Adelgundis Chapel always invites you to enjoy a cool beer in the evening sun.
Glass museums at a glance:
- Art collections of the Veste Coburg:
The former collections of the Coburg Dukes are exhibited in the castle complex of the Veste Coburg.
- European Museum for Modern Glass, Rödental:
In the Rosenau Castle Park near Rödental, the European Museum for Modern Glass displays the collection of studio glass and modern glass.
- Frauenau Glass Museum:
The glass museum gives an overview of the historical development of glass and also shows glass production with a melting furnace.
- European Flacon Glass Museum Kleintettau:
The European Flacon Glass Museum shows the history of glass over the last five millennia.
- Bavarian National Museum Munich:
The Bavarian National Museum in Munich has a variety of art and cultural history collections.
- Glass Museum Passau:
The Glass Museum Passau is the world's largest museum dedicated to European glass.
glasmuseum.de (only in German)
- Zwiesel Forest Museum:
The Zwiesel Forest Museum and Cultural Centre is a cultural and natural history museum.
waldmuseum.zwiesel.de (only in German)
- Museum of Glass Art Lauscha (Thuringia):
The Museum of Glass Art Launscha is the oldest special museum for glass in Germany.