Our city – our museum
How did Stuttgart become what it is today? What were the main driving forces in the city’s development? And what kind of city might it become in future? We hope that answers to these and other questions will soon be found, in a place which played its own role in Stuttgart’s history: the Wilhelmspalais (King Wilhelm’s Palace). The Stadtmuseum Stuttgart will be opened in this building in 2017. The new museum fills a gap in the city’s cultural provision, because no museum has previously been dedicated to the city of Stuttgart and its history. The Wilhelmspalais is a centrally located museum site that has always been an arena for important historical events.
The Stadtmuseum not only tells stories from the city’s past, but offers a forum for discussing Stuttgart today and in the future. The permanent exhibition sheds light on the contemporary as well as the historical city. Special exhibitions take a deeper look at particular aspects of the permanent exhibition. They focus on themes from the city’s history and questions of architecture and urban planning. The Stadtmuseum has begun to stage exhibitions and events even prior to opening officially.
Museum education is an area in which the Stadtmuseum is already very active: since 2010 schools have been using the “Stadtmuseum unterwegs” (Stadtmuseum out and about) resource materials to discover the city’s history for themselves. Likewise, the future section of the Stadtmuseum for children and young people – "Stadtlabor" (City lab) – is already in existence.
An open and active location
Our concept of the Stadtmuseum is based on spaces designed for flexible use and linkage of the museum to the wider city. There will be a media space to connect the exhibitions with the urban region and – making free use of the wiki principle – to open them up for comments and additional contributions.
Architecturally the ground floor is intended to become an extended living room for the city. Alongside the museum shop, a 150-seat lecture theatre and an area for special exhibitions are being created. The foyer and the lecture theatre provide space for events and discussions. They can also be hired for presentations, parties and other occasions.
The exhibition areas are planned for the first and second floors. The permanent exhibition “Stuttgarter Stadtgeschichte(n)” (Stories from Stuttgart’s history) will be displayed on the first floor. We deliberately concentrate it into 900 m² to leave 500 m² available on the second floor for special exhibitions.
The “Stadtlabor” (City lab) invites children and young people to plan their future in the city. In the role of junior planners, they are invited to exhibitions, workshops and projects exploring questions of building culture.
The museum café on the first floor has access to the terrace and a wonderful view of the city.
Our conception for the museum already involves active cooperations with a wide range of partners, a programme for schools, and the activities of our “Stadtlabor” by way of outreach work to the wider city.
The exhibition: “Stories from Stuttgart’s history”
What makes Stuttgart special? Its particular cauldron-shaped topography? Its green and grey contrasts – vineyards and forests, concrete structures and major highways? Rural farming settlements, the industrialised Neckar valley or the urban city centre? What do Stuttgarters think about the city and what do other people say? Are the clichés true? And how and why do people come to identify with Stuttgart? The museum is the place to discover Stuttgart from models and various media, historical objects and documents, photographs and films.
At the centre of the exhibition, a media-projected model shows the topography of the city and all its districts at a glance. This is the starting point of a journey into the past. In “Stadtgespräche” (conversations about the city), visitors experience important events and developments in Stuttgart’s history, ranging from the introduction of the eight-hour day by Robert Bosch to the debate about the former “Kalte Platte” (cold slab) concrete architecture of Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz (Palace Square), and most recently the conflict over the Stuttgart 21 rail infrastructure project.
Two “Jahrhundert-Räume” (century spaces) give a chronological narrative of the city’s history from the mid-18th century. The main focus from the 18th into the 19th century is the transition from the small-town royal seat of the Kings of Württemberg to a large industrialised city. Defining themes of the 20th century are the beginnings of democracy, the Nazi period, wartime destruction and post-war reconstruction, and the subsequent effects of migration on the city. The presentation is rounded off with a chronicle of the city’s history from the earliest times.
City history is a story of migration
Anyone who hopes to understand the history of modern Stuttgart needs to know the story of how all its people came to live in the city. Their stories start with sad goodbyes in places like Petrota or Cadiz. They are stories about departures and arrivals, work, love, disasters and triumphs.
The history of migration to Stuttgart is an important area of the Stadtmuseum’s work. In 2010 and 2011, to mark the 50th anniversaries of Germany’s bilateral recruitment agreements with Greece, Spain and Turkey, the Stadtmuseum showed its first exhibitions on the history of migration to the city. [verlinkung Ausstellungen] So that the stories of Stuttgart’s many immigrant residents can be told to future generations, the museum established a dedicated collection on migration history. A website was created at www.migrationsgeschichte.de with objects on the history of migration.
Have you kept old mementos of travelling to Germany and arriving here in Stuttgart? The first things you bought, guidebooks, documents, photos of your family or your workplace? We are looking for memorabilia and things that tell the story of how a foreign city gradually became familiar surroundings, a place to feel at home. more in German [Verlinkung zu „Ihr Objekt für das Museum“ / „Ihre Stadtgeschichte“]
Facts and figures
- Area: 4,054 m² utilisable area from a total floor area of 8,916 m²
- Investment costs: Total costs of building construction and exhibition € 38.3 m
- Principal: Stuttgart state capital office for real estate and housing (Amt für Liegenschaften und Wohnen der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart) represented by the state surveyor’s office (Hochbauamt)
- Museum concept: Stadtmuseum planning staff at the Stuttgart state capital office for culture (Kulturamt der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart)
- Architecture: Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei Architects, Stuttgart, www.lederer-ragnarsdottir-oei.de
- Exhibition design: Jangled Nerves, Stuttgart, www.janglednerves.de
- Corporate design: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign, Stuttgart, www.L2M3.com
Important facets of the city’s history are reflected in the roughly 170-year history of the Wilhelmspalais (King Wilhelm’s Palace).
The palace was built by the court master builder Giovanni Salucci in 1840 for Princesses Marie and Sophie of Württemberg. The interiors were decorated by Karl Ludwig von Zanth. Princess Marie of Württemberg lived here until 1886. Her sister Sophie only ever visited the Wilhelmspalais as Queen of the Netherlands. In 1887 Wilhelm II of Württemberg moved in, accompanied by his second wife Charlotte. In 1891 he became the King of Württemberg. The Württemberg monarchy came to an end in the Wilhelmspalais in 1918 – on 9 November of that year, revolutionaries forced their way into the palace. Wilhelm II abdicated on 30 November.
In 1929 the building passed into the city’s ownership and was used for various purposes. It almost became a Zeppelin museum named the “Zeppelinäum”. Under the National Socialist regime, from 1933 the Wilhelmspalais initially became the headquarters of the security service. Then, in 1936, the building was remodelled and reopened as a monument to the achievements of German expatriates and a museum of German folk tradition. It was used as a prestigious venue as well as a propaganda instrument by the “Deutsches Auslandsinstitut” (German expatriate institute), which by then had been brought into line with Nazi ideology and was headquartered in a former orphanage opposite the palace. In 1944, the Wilhelmspalais was reduced to a shell by aerial bombardment. The building, like many others in Stuttgart, was a ruin for over 15 years. From 1961 the architect Wilhelm Tiedje, working in the formal idiom of the 1960s, completely reconstructed the inside of the building as the city library. Herta-Maria Witzemann designed the furnishings and finishes. The city library in the Wilhelmspalais was opened in 1965, and the city’s local history collection was hosted on the second floor until 1991. In the long run, the central library was so popular that it lacked the space to accommodate its many users. In autumn 2011 the city library moved into newly built premises on Mailänder Platz and the building became vacant. Until the end of August 2013 it will be used for cultural events by “Wagenhallen”, an arts organisation originally based in disused railway yards. The remodelling programme for the Stadtmuseum will begin in autumn 2013.
Reconstruction as the Stadtmuseum will launch a new chapter in the building’s architectural history. The plans by the Stuttgart consortium of Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei (architecture) and Jangled Nerves (exhibition design) critically engage with the fundamental principles of the building and completely reconfigure the interior of the Wilhelmspalais. From Salucci’s original spatial structure a modern museum will emerge, with flowing transitions between rooms and intriguing sight-lines. The historical façade will be preserved while a large set of steps will give access to the building from Konrad Adenauer Strasse. A museum garden is planned adjacent to Urbanstrasse. Conversion into the Stadtmuseum will integrate the Wilhelmspalais back into its historical and town-planning context. The architecture picks up the original city layout, with the “Planie” as the central axis, and carries the alignment through to the Wilhelmspalais. The aim is to connect the Stadtmuseum and the Kunstmuseum (art museum) via this axis.