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Alfred Lichtwark, Inaugural Address as Director of Hamburg’s Art Gallery (December 9, 1886)

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It is the responsibility of the museum’s administrative officers to attempt to draw in talent from the worlds of architecture and scholarship to provide expertise in all those areas from which they are removed. This would safeguard against fragmentation and enhance the overall effect of the institute. It would be very desirable if introductory lectures on the history of architecture were to occur. Here, our photography collection could provide the illustrative material.

Incorporating schools into this entire plan is particularly important to us. Why shouldn’t senior elementary school students or grammar school students in grades four and up* be taken to the Kunsthalle just as they are taken to the Zoological Gardens? The teachers should introduce and thoroughly explain a number of the most magnificent pictures. The students should be guided towards a dedicated contemplation of all the details of the depiction; they should learn the most important pictures and all their details by heart, as they would a poem. It goes without saying that the administration of the Kunsthalle will organize special introductory courses for teachers. I do not have to point out the anticipated results. I would like to underscore one thing, however. In numerous social strata, children are the only route to reaching the parents. Children whose eyes are opened will bring their parents to our museum.

Since our population is one that travels regularly, I regard yet another resource that we are developing as very important. I would like to refer to it briefly as the “travel apparatus,” a reference collection of travel materials. The Kunsthalle must be capable of supplying helpful information to anyone wishing to prepare for a journey to Berlin or Dresden or Paris or even just to Lübeck or Lüneburg. At our museum, the prospective traveler must be able to look at photographs of the paintings and – this strikes me as essential – the buildings that he intends to see; moreover, the library of the Kunsthalle must offer the relevant works needed for preparatory study. Instruction in the use of these materials must be offered in systematic lectures, and these should also include critical overviews of the art collections of the various capitals. We would group the relevant material according to the following approximate themes: the museums and buildings of Berlin; Dresden and its collections; the German galleries; the monuments and collections of the Netherlands and Belgium; the collections of Paris; the buildings of Louis XIV; and travel suggestions for England and Italy. This resource would provide an opportunity to steer visitors towards the study of architecture, whose value for artistic education cannot be overestimated.

This, highly esteemed gentlemen, constitutes in brief the plan for the reorganization of the Kunsthalle. We are not envisioning a museum that just stands there and waits, but an institute that actively intervenes in the artistic education of our populace. Moreover, this is not merely a moral and aesthetic question, but an extraordinarily important economic question as well. The future of both our art and our industry depends on whether we know how to educate, here in our own country, discriminating consumers who make considerable and strict demands. Virtually nothing, however, has happened in this area so far.

* Grammar school ended with eighth grade – trans.

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