State Museum Schwerin

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State Museum Schwerin
place Alter Garten 3,
19055 Schwerin Coordinates: 53 ° 37 '35 "  N , 11 ° 25' 6"  EWorld icon
architect Hermann Willebrand
opening October 22, 1882
Number of visitors (annually) 490,000
ISIL DE-MUS-838211

The collections of the State Museum Schwerin today include more than 100,000 works of art: paintings, works on paper, sculptures made of wood, terracotta, stone, metal and papier mâché, coins and medals, weapons, handicrafts made of glass, porcelain, ivory and metal, furniture as well as modern objects and installations. In addition to the core collection of ancient art, there is also a special focus on contemporary art.

The State Museum is an art museum in Schwerin , the state capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . The new museum building was opened in 1882 on behalf of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1823–1883). The architect Hermann Willebrand (1816–1899), a student of Friedrich August Stüler's , designed the new museum building, which was technically pioneering at the time, based on the most modern aspects. Located directly on Lake Schwerin and the Old Garden , the museum - together with the Schwerin Castle , the State Theater , the State Chancellery and the Old Palace - is one of the few completely preserved historicist squares in Germany.


State Gallery from 1882
View from the castle, October 2009

The architect Georg Adolph Demmler (1804–1886) made the first plans for a new museum building . However, due to the early death of Grand Duke Paul Friedrich (1800–1842), the plans were not implemented. The plans for a museum building for the grand ducal collection were suspended for 40 years until the Mecklenburg building clerk Hermann Willebrand (1816–1899), a student of Stiers and Stüler's and long-time assistant to Demmler, presented new plans for a museum building at the Old Garden. Willebrand's planning was primarily devoted to the specific museum and thus functional requirements of a museum. Fire and break-in security, heating, ventilation and, above all, lighting that is appropriate to the situation and the exhibit were taken into account. With this, Willebrand broke the ground for new ideas and marked the beginning of an era that subordinated form to function.

Willebrand built the representative building in the style of the "Greek Renaissance" in the period from 1877 to its handover on May 26, 1882 with the assistance of the artistic director of the art collections, Eduard Prosch (1804–1878). The historicist style, which primarily uses a striking entrance portal with Ionic columns and a large staircase, is typical of this time. The first director of the Grand Ducal Art Collection in the Old Garden was Friedrich Schlie (1839–1902). He also designed the gable frieze depicting the marriage of Cupid and psyche , modeled by the sculptor Albert Wolff . The building was initially intended to be more of a private museum, which under Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II served more scientific purposes than an exhibition.


18th century

Rhinoceros Clara , painting by Jean Baptiste Oudry

The history of the museum roughly corresponds to the history of the collection. Duke Christian Ludwig II (1683–1756) took the first step towards a well-known collection of paintings . As an enthusiastic art collector, he acquired numerous works of art on his travels at home and abroad. His interest was not only in purely representative art, but rather dedicated himself to high-quality old and new masters, while in most German princely houses purely summary collecting was common. In 1725 Christian Ludwig II already owned around 120 paintings and graphics by Dutch masters of the 17th century. A large part of these works that had been collected by then were destroyed in the fire at Grabow Castle that same year. Christian Ludwig II was determined to establish an important collection of paintings for Mecklenburg. When he resided in Schwerin Castle ten years later, he had his first gallery built in 1736 in the form of a two-story half-timbered building. This year is now considered the founding year of the Schwerin art collections. Acquirers in the largest European art centers bought art for the Schwerin art collections.

Christian Ludwig II also bought himself in the artist's studios, for example from Adriaen von Ostade or Jan van Huysum . Christian Ludwig's son Friedrich (1717–1785) and his nephew also collected on a large scale. The ducal collection was greatly enriched around 1750 by Friedrich, who acquired around 56 colored drawings and 43 paintings (34 of which are still preserved) by the French animal painter Jean Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755). In terms of its cohesion and size, the collection represents the world's largest collection of works by the French animal painter. In 1792, 695 paintings were already listed in the holdings of the ducal collection and were distributed in an exhibition in 21 rooms and cabinets. It is thanks to Christian Ludwig's fondness for Dutch painting that the State Museum Schwerin / Ludwigslust / Güstrow now has one of the most extensive reference collections of Dutch painting in Germany.

19th century

Grand Duke Friedrich Franz I (1756–1837) structured the wealth of art treasures for the first time in a new form of administration and appointed Friedrich Christoph Georg Lenthe (1774–1851) as the first gallery director. This structured and systematized the collection for the first time according to scientific standpoints. The idea of ​​a publicly accessible gallery was born, but this failed due to the lack of financial resources. Later, when Schwerin became a residential city under Grand Duke Paul Friedrich (1800–1842) in 1837 and thus also a center of cultural life, numerous renovations were carried out throughout the city. The castle was also rebuilt in 1845 and the ducal gallery in the half-timbered building had to find another place. Initially, the art collection was housed in two buildings on Alexandrinenstraße in Paulsstadt and was opened to the public for the first time in December 1845 and from then on regularly. During this time, the profile of the Grand Ducal Art Collection changed. The director of the Grand Ducal Art Collection, Eduard Prosch , influenced by archeology, turned to the expansion of the collection and exchanged valuable holdings. Starting in 1869, he built up a collection of plaster casts of ancient dams, which eventually comprised more than 300 pieces and was handed over to the Institute for Classical Studies at the University of Rostock in 1919 .

Due to the early death of Paul Friedrich, Georg Adolph Demmler's (1804–1886) plans for a museum building were not completed. The plans for a museum building were suspended for 40 years, until Grand Duchess Alexandrine (1803-1892), the wife of Paul Friedrich, donated money from the reparations payments of the 1870-1871 war against France to build the museum. The construction was carried out by the architect Hermann Willebrand (1816–1899). The opening of the new museum building took place on October 22, 1882. Friedrich Schlie (1839–1902) was appointed director of the new Grand Ducal Museum , who set up an extensive permanent exhibition and compiled a comprehensive catalog of paintings for the opening of the house. Schlie designed the permanent exhibition according to the principles of a perceptual, holistic and aesthetic understanding. His successor in office was (until 1911) the later founding director of the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, Ernst Steinmann .

From the Weimar Republic to the end of National Socialism

As part of the November Revolution Grand Duke was Friedrich Franz IV. Forced to abdicate on 14 November 1918. The collection became the property of the state and the Grand Ducal Museum became a state museum. The gallery at the Old Garden continued to house the paintings, the graphic collections and the "Mecklenburg antiquities". The rich handicraft inventory and the coin cabinet were transferred to Schwerin Castle and a castle museum was set up in the former private rooms of the ducal family. Thus the old garden with the castle and castle museum, the gallery and the state theater advanced to a representative and impressive cultural center in Germany. Walter Josephi , director of the art collections since 1911, has compiled extensive collection guides based on the latest findings in art history. In contrast to his predecessor, he aimed for an open and modern collection strategy. In the spirit of the Mecklenburg dukes, he also turned to contemporary artists and in 1926 acquired important works by Franz von Stuck , Rudolf Bartels , Max Liebermann , Lovis Corinth , Carl Schuch and Wilhelm Trübner .

With the seizure of power by the National Socialists and the accompanying movement of “degenerate” art , important works in the Schwerin collection were lost. With the establishment of a uniform factory in the gallery in 1943, museum work came to a standstill. When the war broke out, important works of art in the art collection were relocated for security reasons and some of them were taken to the Grasleben salt mine , the cellar of Schwerin Castle, mansions and vaults. Towards the end of the war until well into 1945, the castle served as a hospital and the gallery continued to serve as a uniform factory and shelter for refugees. In 1945 the gallery at the Old Garden was reopened.

GDR time

Museum with a flight of stairs, 1959

Starting with the reopening of the gallery in 1945, it was fundamentally restructured in terms of personnel. The program has continued to hold special exhibitions to this day. However, well-known stocks did not return from their storage locations. A new museum principle was pursued in the GDR , in which the focus was placed on the connections between artistic creation and social development. Social order became a central component of art and culture. New departments were created, for example “Medieval Sculpture and Painting in Mecklenburg”. When in 1961 the stocks that had been relocated during the war, including works by Frans Hals and Carel Fabritius, were returned from the Celle Castle Art Collection, the Schwerin Museum was finally able to secure an international reputation and take its place among the most important art museums in the GDR. Since the historical areas were detached in the 1970s, the Museum am Alten Garten has presented itself exclusively as an art collection. Branch offices were set up in Güstrow Castle in 1972 and Schwerin Castle in 1975, followed by Ludwigslust Castle in the 1980s .


Restoration work at the State Museum Schwerin in June 2011

Since the summer of 2016, the 800 square meter extension of the Schwerin State Museum has offered more space for art after 1945. The State Museum Schwerin preserves, maintains, researches and presents art treasures of international rank from antiquity to the present. Since 2018 it has belonged to the state authority for State Palaces, Gardens and Art Collections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . By 2020, the facade and outdoor facilities in the inner courtyard of the museum will be restored or redesigned in order to enhance them and make them usable for an exhibition of sculptures.




The State Museum Schwerin is known for the top collection of Dutch and Flemish painting from the 17th and 18th centuries, the " Ernst Barlach Foundation Bölkow" and the Marcel Duchamp collection from Schwerin . Changing special exhibitions of old and contemporary art complete the range of exhibitions. The State Museum Schwerin wants to be the art-historical memory of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and reflect the over 1000-year history of the state, at the same time to be jointly responsible for the cultural development and identity of the state.

Dutch and Flemish painting

The gate guard , painting by Carel Fabritius

It is thanks to the Mecklenburg dukes that Schwerin today has one of the largest reference collections of Dutch painting of the 17th and 18th centuries. With works by masters such as Rembrandt , Peter Paul Rubens , Frans Hals , Paulus Potter , Gerard Dou , Ludolf Backhuysen , Pieter Claesz , Otto Marseus van Schrieck , Simon de Vlieger or Adriaen van Ostade and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Ä. the golden age of Dutch painting is represented in the State Museum Schwerin by several hundred different-format paintings. A particular treasure of the museum is The Gate Guard by Carel Fabritius , who founded the Delft light painting and left an oeuvre of only 13 paintings worldwide.

In October 2013, the Schwerin State Museum was given an extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries. The collector Christoph Müller donated 155 Flemish and Dutch paintings to the museum, probably the largest donation of old master paintings that a German museum received after the Second World War. The Christoph Müller donation enriches and complements the collection of the State Museum Schwerin with around 600 Dutch paintings. As a result, the museum has one of the most extensive Dutch holdings in Germany.

Painting from the 18th to the 20th century

Winter landscape , painting by Caspar David Friedrich

The numerous works of the French animal painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry occupy a special position in the collection of the State Museum Schwerin. In its unity, it is the world's largest collection by the French animal painter. One can also highlight Caspar David Friedrich's winter landscape . The art of the 20th century is represented by Lovis Corinth , Alexej Jawlensky , Max Pechstein , Götz von Seckendorff and Pablo Picasso , among others . Sculptures by Ernst Barlach and contemporary art by Sigmar Polke , Daniel Spoerri and Rachel Whiteread are also represented.

Marcel Duchamp collection

With its holdings of 90 works by Duchamp from all work groups and creative phases of the artist, Schwerin has one of the most important Duchamp collections in Europe. The foundation of the collection is made up of 68 works that were taken over in 1998 by the Belgian collector and gallery owner Ronny Van De Velde .

In addition to various ready-mades, the collection includes several sculptures, numerous graphics, posters and books designed by Duchamp. The most important exhibits include two versions of his famous Boîte-en-Valise / box in a case, in which Duchamp has combined his most important works in the manner of a picture book or miniature museum.

The Duchamp Research Center (see web links) has existed since 2009 and deals with the collection, life and work of Marcel Duchamp. In addition to the scientific examination of its own collection, the research center provides a general platform for research on Duchamp. In 2011 the accompanying series Poiesis was initiated. In addition, with the support of the Association of Friends of the State Museum Schwerin e. V. is awarded the Duchamp Research Grant annually to promote research at the Duchamp Research Center of the State Museum Schwerin and to support the next generation of scientists.


The Kupferstichkabinett also houses a wealth of valuable works. In addition to works by Albrecht Dürer , Käthe Kollwitz and Martin Schongauer , Daniel Chodowiecki , Erich Heckel , Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde , the numerous etchings by Rembrandt represent a highlight of the cabinet collection.

Handicraft collection

The arts and crafts department has more than 10,000 pieces. The focus of the collection is on objects made from Meissen porcelain and ceramics. Other areas of the collection are furniture, the ivory collection, fans and jewelry, ceremonial and decorative weapons, coins, medals. The time span of the creation of the works of art extends from antiquity to the present.

Frank Brabant Collection

At the end of 2017, the Schwerin-born entrepreneur and art collector Frank Brabant announced that the museum, with three hundred works, will receive around half of its collection from his estate.


  • 2014/2015: Art theft / looted art .
  • 2015/2016: out of control! Colored graphics & mail art in the GDR .
  • 2016: Günther Uecker : New Wustrower cloths .
  • 2017: The Menagerie of Medusa. Otto Marseus van Schrieck and the scholars ,
  • 2017/18: From Beckmann to Jawlensky . The Frank Brabant Collection in Schwerin and Wiesbaden
  • 2018: Treasure discovered! Ducal building in baroque Mecklenburg.
  • 2018: Beyond the Horizon…. GDR art from the collection of the State Museum Schwerin.
  • 2018: Hot Printing. HN Werkman and his traces in the present.
  • 2019: From Barbizon to the sea - Carl Malchin and the discovery of Mecklenburg.


  • Friedrich Schlie : Descriptive directory of the works of more recent masters in the Grand Ducal Painting Gallery in Schwerin. Bärensprung, Schwerin 1884 ( digitized version ).
  • Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. Edited by the State Museum Schwerin, VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984.
  • Karin Annette Möller: Porcelain from Fürstenberg. Catalog, Schwerin 2002, ISBN 3-86106-073-6 .
  • Duchamp. Schwerin collection. 2003, ISBN 3-86106-074-4 .
  • Thomas W. Gaehtgens (Eds.), Berna Bartel, Hela Baudis, Antje Marthe Fischer u. a .: State Museum Schwerin. Art collections, castles and gardens. Museums, castles and monuments in Germany, 1995, ISBN 2-907333-94-1 .
  • State Museum Schwerin -Gallery building- A tour . Editing: Julia-Kornelia Romanski. Konrad Reich Verlag Rostock 1991, ISBN 3-86167-041-0

Web links

Commons : State Museum Schwerin  - collection of pictures

Individual evidence

  2. Handover to the Cominissar of the Grand Ducal Ministry , Centralblatt der Bauverwaltung , June 3, 1882, p. 196, accessed on December 10, 2012
  3. ^ A b Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 14.
  4. ^ A b Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 7.
  5. ^ Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 8.
  6. ^ Hans Strutz, State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 10.
  7. ^ Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 11.
  8. ^ Collection history , accessed on November 2, 2015.
  9. ^ A b Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 17.
  10. ^ Hans Strutz: State Museum Schwerin. VEB EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 1984, p. 18.
  11. Old Masters / Contemporaries. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 19, 2016 ; Retrieved July 19, 2016 .
  12. ^ Operation for construction and real estate in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Retrieved February 10, 2019 .
  13. Klaus Irler, Mighty Chance. Avantgarde in McPomm, in: taz from 12.09.2013. Retrieved May 18, 2014 .
  14. Boîte-en-valise
  15. ^ Collections - State Museum Schwerin. Retrieved April 23, 2014 .
  16. Donation: Collector Brabant gives a foretaste in Schwerin. Süddeutsche Zeitung , November 22, 2017, accessed on August 3, 2020 . .
  17. Can a museum show how it researches art theft? In: FAZ of October 31, 2014, p. 14.