Folkwang Museum Hagen

1898Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874-1921) plans the establishment of a natural science museum and appoints the Berlin architect Karl Gerard to construct a new building. 
1899Osthaus returns from a trip to the Near East with a collection of Islamic art and decides to establish an art collection.
1900Osthaus contacts the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde and hires him for the interior design of the museum in modern style (Art Nouveau).  Van de Velde awakens his interest in contemporary art. 
1901Acquisition of ‘Lise with a Parasol’, a major Impressionist work by August Renoir, from a Berlin Secession exhibition.

Opening of the Folkwang Museum with three departments: natural science, historical crafts and the beginnings of a collection of contemporary art. Osthaus takes the name Folkwang from the Old North German epic poem Edda (folkvanger – palace of the goddess Freya, that is People’s Hall and court of the muses). With this museum he aims “to create a center of artistic life in the western industrial zone” (K. E. Osthaus).

1902 – 1912In ten years, the famous Folkwang Collection of Modern Art comes into being.  In 1912, the Folkwang in Hagen reaches the pinnacle of its development.

The first Museum Folkwang catalogue is brought out.


With the help of the Prussian Minister of Culture, Osthaus tries to obtain state funding to ensure the museum’s continued existence.


In his will, Osthaus adds “that the museum remains undiminished”. 


Osthaus names Ernst Fuhrmann, the head of the Folkwang-Verlage, executor of his will. Karl Ernst Osthaus dies on 27 March in Meran.


Founding of the Christian Rohlfs Museum in Hagen. In 1934 it was renamed the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum.

1945Re-opening of the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum, Hagen. In 1955 it transferred to the old Folkwang building on Hochstraße.

Essen Municipal Art Museum

1901 Founding of the Essen Museumsverein (today Kunstring Folkwang). Prof. Paul Borchardt becomes honorary head of the art department housed in the former Hirschlandschen Haus, I. Hagen 34. 

The collection is handed over to the City of Essen. Founding of the Städtischen Kunstverein Essen.  Collection housed in the Old Post Office Building on Burgplatz.


Separation of the natural science (core of today’s Ruhrlandmuseum) from the art and local history departments. Transfer of the art museum to the Grillohaus on Burgplatz. The art history department becomes the Municipal Art Museum. Dr. Ernst Gosebruch becomes academic assistant administrator.

1909Dr. Ernst Gosebruch becomes head of the Municipal Art Museum.

Founding of the Essen Kunstverein.


Grillohaus building extended.


Acquisition of Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Rhonebarken’ (1888).


Grillohaus used for other purposes.
Art Museum closed for the duration of the war. 


Dr. Hans Goldschmidt endows the art museum his house Bismarkstraße 98 (site of today’s Museum Folkwang) as its new home. 

Museum Folkwang Essen


Acquisition of the Folkwang Museum by a group of private donors for 15 million Marks. 

May/June 1922: The donors found the Folkwang Museumsverein, which signs a contract, still valid today, with the City of Essen concerning the shared ownership and support of the museum.

Following the example of his brother, Dr. Karl Goldschmidt gives his neighbouring house on Bismarkstraße to house the new museum.

On 29 October the Museum Folkwang, merged with the Essen Municipal Art Museum, opens as the ‘Museum Folkwang Essen’.


The Essener Kunstverein is renamed the ‘Kunstverein Folkwang’ (today; Kunstring Folkwang).


The board approves the construction of a new building, designed by the Essen architect Prof. Edmund Koerner.


Beginning of construction, including the two Goldschmidt Villas.


The Essen School of Music, Dance and Language as well as the Arts and Crafts School receive permission from the museum to use the name ‘Folkwang’. 


Opening of the new museum building.


Ernst Gosebruch receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Marburg. 


The ‘Kampfbund fur deutsche Kultur’ demands Dr. Gosebruch’s dismissal, which the board rejects. At the end of the year, Dr. Gosebruch steps down. 


Dr. Klaus Graf von Baudissin, put forward by the National Socialists, is named Director of the museum, against the wishes of the Folkwang Museumsverein.


Dr. von Baudissin sells ‘Improvisation’ by Vassily Kandinsky, one of the collection’s most important classical modern works, as a “characteristic document of the errors of a directionless time”.


In July and August, almost 150 paintings as well as aquarelles and graphics – over 1000 works all told, are confiscated from the museum by the ‘Commission for the Purification of German Museums of Decadent Art’. The collection of modern and contemporary art, for which the Museum Folkwang was known in Germany and beyond, is thus destroyed. 


The new mayor of Essen, Just Dillgardt, suspends Dr. von Baudissin from his post. His assistant, Dr. Heinz Köhn, takes over as head of the museum and in the years that follow seeks to preserve the museum from further harm.


The remaining artworks are moved to safety.


The museum building is used to house municipal offices whose previous sites had been bombed.


The museum is seriously damaged in a number of air raids.


An air raid on March 11 destroys the building.


15 December: First board meeting after the war. The City of Essen and the Folkwang Museumsverein decide to rebuild the museum. Works of art brought back from safekeeping are placed in the Schloß Hugenpoet in Kettwig.


Restoration of two exhibition rooms on Bismarkstraße.


Death of Dr. Ernst Gosebruch.


Beginning of planning for a new Museum Folkwang. 


Construction begins: Architects: Werner Kreutzberger, Erich Hösterey, Horst Loy.


Opening of the new museum building on Bismarkstraße, one of the most successful post war museum buildings. 


Death of Dr. Heinz Köhn. 


Dr. Paul Vogt is named director of the museum. He succeeds in buying back important works confiscated in 1937 as well as in integrating contemporary art.


The Folkwang Museumsverein finances the first planning for an extension of the museum.


Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Siftung’s decision to co-finance an extension sets planning in motion. The City of Essen decides to build a new museum center to include an extension for the Museum Folkwang and a new building for the Ruhrlandmuseum.


The Photographic Collection, founded by Otto Steinert at the Folkwangschule für Gestaltung in Essen-Werden in 1958, is integrated into the Museum Folkwang as a separate department. 


Construction begins. Architects: Kiemoe, Kreidt und Partner, Allerkamp, Niehaus, Skonia.


Opening of the extension.


Dr. Georg-W. Költzsch is named director of the museum.


The Essen City Council decides to rebuild and renovate the old building. 


Beginning of reconstruction and renovation by the architects Allerkamp und Niehaus and the City of Essen Public Works Department.


Extension of the cafeteria and redesign of Goethestraße entrance hall.


Reopening of the 19th Century and Classical Modern collections as well as Photographic Collection of the Museum Folkwang. The Photographic Collection in the Museum Folkwang founds a new association. 


Dr. Hubert Gaßner is named director of the museum.


Death of Dr. Georg-W. Költzsch.

2006Dr. Hartwig Fischer is named director of the museum.  

In August 2006, Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Berthold Beitz, chairman of the board of trustees of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung, announces that the foundation would, as sole patron, finance the construction of a new museum building. The jury of the international architecture competition organized by the City of Essen declares David Chipperfield Architects the winner in its meeting of 13 March. The Krupp-Stiftung accepts the jury’s recommendation.  

Beginning of construction work for the new building at the beginning of July and closure of the exhibition rooms. In July, offices are temporarily transferred to Friedrichstrasse 12.
2008Reopening of the old building on Kahrstraße on 11 January with an exhibition program of the Photography, Graphic Arts, Poster and Contemporary Art departments.   About 120 masterpieces from the Folkwang collection are shown from June in the Villa Hugel.   Topping-out ceremony for the new Folkwang building in autumn.
2009End of the exhibition program in the old building on Kahrstraße on 5 April. Old and new building are linked. 
2010January 28, Ceremonic Opening
January 30, Public Opening