Museum - archive - collection - museum
One of the oldest collections of its kind, the Museum of Architecture has gone through an eventful history in the 120 years since its foundation: from museum to archive, from archive to collection and back from a collection to a museum.
The Museum of Architecture around 1900
The Museum of Architecture has been founded in 1885 to join the collections of the Technische Hochschule, like the Schinkel-Museumm, the collection of plaster casts and the Callenbach collection of medieval building models, that had been housed in the 1884 newly built main building of the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, with the estates of Schinkel's students Around 1900, the Museum of Architecture had already gathered some 20.000 drawings by 293 architects, 45 models and 100 sketchbooks in its study collection.
Until the 1920s, the Museum of Architecture focused principally on the education of architects, that centred on teaching and application of historical building styles and drawing after historical models. As late as 1920, the curriculum of the department of architecture comprised courses like »Design of buildings in antique forms« (Prof. Bruno Schulz) or »Detailing in forms of the middle ages in preparation for design of freestone structures« (Prof. Friedrich Seeßelberg). More contemporary tasks as design of industry-structures, housing and urban development were not documented in the museum's collections as was not the new style of architecture of the beginning 20th century.
The detachment of the Schinkel-Museum and its integration into the collections of the Staatliche Museen on the Berlin museum island caused a new assignment of the mission of the Museum of Architecture: in addition to the permanent exhibits, a series of temporary exhibitions on contemporary architects and new building forms was planned and executed. This concept was to meet the concerns of public interest in architecture in Berlin as well as the student's critique on the antiquated formation offered by the Technische Hochschule. The famed exhibitions of Hans Poelzig's and Emil Fahrenkamp's designs in 1925, or of works of Le Corbusier and Wilhelm Kreis in 1926 made the Museum of Architecture a renowned forum for exhibitions on architecture.
UNfirtunately, the Museum had to cede this role as soon as 1932: due to lack of space in the Technische Hochschule, the whole collection of drawings and models was transferred to the premises of the Museum of traffic and construction in the former Hamburger Bahnhof. While there were still some exhibitions in the Technische Hochschule (on danish and transsylvanian architecture in 1933 and on fascist architecture in 1934), the collection, now known as »Architektur-Archiv der TH Berlin«, was object to scientific research only. By the effect of war, the repertories and all of the models were lost. Important drawings, among them parts of the bequests of Adler, Bötticher, Gilly, Hitzig, Jacobsthal, Langhans sen. and Langhans jun., Persius, von Quast, Soller, Strack and Stüler, are missing since 1945.
Despite attempts to incorporate the collections of the former Museum of Architecture into the collections of the Staatliche Museen Berlin, the faculty of architecure succeeded in having the decimated and severely damaged collection returned to the university and to make it accessible by the public under the name of »Plansammlung der Architekturfakultät« since the beginning of the 1950s.
Starting 1972, the collection, now part of the university's library and equipped with a steady staff and funds, could again begin with systematic acquisitions. The collection, reduced to 20.000 objects after the war, has since been quintupled. Turning towards a larger public with the growing online collection and the public gallery opened in 2005, the institution has been renamed Museum of Architecture in 2007.