LVR Industrial Museum Peter-Behrens-Bau
90 metres long, seven storeys tall, and containing 1,000 tonnes of steel in solid brickwork: Gutehoffnungshütte Group (GHH) charged industrial designer and architect Peter Behrens with designing the building back in 1920. Today, it bears his name and has become an icon of Bauhaus architecture in the Ruhr area. The Peter Behrens Building in Oberhausen has housed the central depot of the LVR Industrial Museum since 1998. A permanent exhibition on the fifth floor, open to the public, offers an overview of the artistic work of one of the most important German architects and pioneers of modern design. In addition, there are some regularly changing special exhibitions.
Not much has changed at first glance: Hundreds of boxes and drawers continue to line the long aisles of shelves, neatly catalogued and ready at hand, just as it has been since the mid-1920s, when GHH Group stored all the spare parts and consumables it needed for its operations, from screws to bicycle tubes to writing paper, in the building on Essener Straße. Evidence of Rhenish industrial and social history from the late 18th century to this day is kept here now: from the protective steel cooker jacket to the wrinkle-free men’s suit, from friendship cards to the laundry presses.
Behrens strictly followed the formal language of the Bauhaus and New Objectivity styles in the design of this impressive industrial monument that houses a total of 350,000 objects today. The collection can be divided into six categories, with the main focus of the textile collection on everyday clothing. Some pieces, such as cotton dresses from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, are very rare items today. Dazzling evening dresses, also kept in the depot, add contrast. The paper collection at the LVR Industriemuseum (Industrial Museum) is titled “Von Rechnungen und Liebesbriefen” (Of Bills and Love Letters). Its objects range from simple writing paper to noodle packaging and clearly show the different uses paper could be put to once industrial production took off. The plastics collection, made available to the LVR-Industriemuseum on permanent loan by the Kunststoff-Museums-Verein, has grown to 20,000 objects and includes some design classics such as the “Bobby Car” or the Panton Chair by Danish designer Verner Panton.
The Peter Behrens Building, located in the direct vicinity of Europe’s largest shopping centre, the Westfield Centro, the industrial monument Gasometer, and the Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen, also houses the “Metallwaren und Maschinen” (Metalware and Machinery) collection with objects ranging from the cutlery and coal and steel industries as well as the “Alltagskultur” (Everyday Culture) collection for the nostalgically minded. “Young projects and old treasures” are juxtaposed in the photo collection, with a sub-collection establishing a relationship to the place in which it is stored: A discovery in the inventory of the residential and office building of the St. Antony-Hütte ironworks in Oberhausen-Osterfeld, which used to serve as the centre of the region’s steel industry, put the LVR Industrial Museum in possession of the negative archive of the works photography department of the Gutehoffnungshütte almost two decades ago. Among other things, this includes around 15,700 glass negatives from the period between 1880 and around 1960.