Major crafts collections sharpen one’s view for noticeable parallels in the fine arts and in crafts. From the beginning, Karl Ernst Osthaus’s collecting activities also included crafts and minor arts objects.
A voyage to Tunisia in 1897 almost certainly awakened his enthusiasm for the material culture of the Near East. His first acquisitions probably date from this time. In the period which followed, crafts objects of all eras from Germany, Europe and non-European countries were acquired to provide new impulses to contemporary art, but also models and points of comparison for local industries, for example silversmiths, or textile or ceramics firms. Selection for the various sections was therefore directed at providing didactic models, rather than ethnological or art historical aspects.
Karl Ernst Osthaus’s successors were also committed to expanding this department. Objects from every continent and era give this collection its exceptional character.