»In the dawn of the young German republic«, as the founding director Friedrich Schreiber-Weigand recalls in retrospect, in 1920, the Chemnitz city council decided 100 years ago to establish a municipal art collection. Inspired by the idea of the museum as a place of democracy, education and participation, the administration, mediation and presentation of the city’s art holdings was recognized as an important municipal task in the first German republic. In addition to the establishment of the König Albert Museum in 1909 on Theaterplatz, the institutionalization of the collection in 1920 acknowledged the previously solely private commitment of the citizens of Chemnitz by the city councils.
2020 also marks the 160th anniversary of the founding of the Kunsthütte zu Chemnitz, the civic art association on whose collection initiative the museum was founded. On the occasion of this double anniversary, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz are showing a representative selection of works of art of all genres and areas from the extensive municipal holdings in the exhibition »In the Dawn of the Republic«. The presentation tells the great and small stories of collecting, civic commitment, industry, art and craftsmanship, but also of the identity of a city marked by ruptures, in the web of European developments.
The exhibition is divided chronologically into five chapters from the 19th and early 20th centuries, through the post-war period and GDR to the present. In addition to the insights into the valuable collection holdings, the contemporary interpretation of the historical Gallery of Modern Art, which was developed in 1926 by Schreiber-Weigand together with Karl Schmidt-Rottluff as a display for contemporary art, is particularly noteworthy. In addition to its open-minded acquisition policy, this is one of the reasons why the museum enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most important German museums for contemporary art and especially for Expressionism in the 1920s.
The Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz can look back on a very varied history since its foundation as a municipal museum 100 years ago, in which many successful periods stand alongside less glorious moments. Alternating tensions, which shape the city of Chemnitz in an ambivalent way, also characterize the history of the art collections. Despite all the breaks, the art collections offered and continue to offer an aesthetic, artistic and historical continuity that was and still is an important element of the identity and also of the civic pride of the city and region.