Ceramics Museum Bürgel

The only ceramics museum in Central Germany was already founded in 1880 as a collection of models. So actually it might be the oldest specialized museum for ceramics. The history of the pottery craftsmanship in Bürgel and of the masters is documented from the provable beginnings in the middle of the 17th century to present times.

Since May 2003 the informative permanent exhibition has been presented in the historically registered reconstructed “Old School Building” in the centre of the town. Among others there are examples of earthenware with Engobe painting , stoneware fired at very high temperatures with the typical so called »Blauen Schürze« as well as luxury ceramics manufactured in the periods of historicism, Art Nouveau and in the 1920s.

One emphasis is put on ceramics after designs by Henry van de Velde (see below) that were manufactured in wide varieties in Bürgel starting in 1902/03. The works of following potter personalities like Carl Fischer (see below) and Walter Gebauer (see below) are also on display as well as pieces of the Bürgel blue and white ceramics.

The project to transform the Dornburg Pottery Workshop to a museum is taken care by the Bürgel museum. So far two important periods in the Dornburg ceramics history have already been honoured with special exhibitions of the former Bauhaus potter Otto Lindig (2009/10) and the ceramicists family Körting (2012). Catalogues have been published for the special exhibitions in our own museum’s series. This might be the most important catalogue series about German ceramics history at present

A script series is also available in the museum’s shop as well as a choice of products made in regional potteries. The steadily growing number of the collection concerning the Dornburg Pottery Workshop are stored under good conservation conditions and professional care in the Bürgel museum, too. There are important items on loan for a long time from the Sparkassen-Cultural Foundation Hessen-Thüringen — collection Winnicke, family Körting, collection Breitenbach and the Ernst von Siemens – Art Foundation.

Personalities

Henry van de VeldeCarl FischerWalter Gebauer
Henry van de Velde (1863 – 1957) was one of the most important artists of the Art Nouveau period. He particularly developed the extremely fruitful creative activity of this period during his time in Weimar as a kind of artistic mentor/ consultant in the Grand Duchy Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach and finally as the head of the Arts and Crafts School he founded here. In 1902 van de Velde visited Bürgel for the first time and closely cooperated with several ceramics manufacturers afterwards. He provided at least 60 designs for ceramic vessels himself. In addition there were numerous designs by students of the School of Arts and Crafts (the number cannot be verified). Due to his influence the ceramics manufacture in Bürgel was stimulated sustainably. Stylistic and technical features allow speaking of characteristic Bürgel Art-Nouveau ceramics.

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Carl Fischer (1891-1969) was born in the Saxonian town of Döbeln and underwent a training at the Ceramics College in Bunzlau. After that he acquired a manufactory in Bürgel and founded the Bürgel Art Ceramics Workshop (BKW). At the beginning still obliged to the style of the previous pottery he soon set his own trends: first with developing multicoloured drip glazes and later with new shapes of ceramic vessels. In addition to glazed decors the slipware coating always played an important role. The Fischer pottery was probably the first workshop in Bürgel in which decors were carved in monochrome Engobe. After 1945 blue and white Engobe ceramics dominated, the carved ornaments were combined with the slipware painting forming the typical “Fischer style”.

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Walter Gebauer (1907-1989) is regarded one of the most important East German ceramicists. He was the son of Paul Gebauer with whom he had worked in Bürgel in a craft pottery since 1934. He passed the examination at the end of his apprenticeship in the factory of his uncle Carl Gebauer in 1925. From 1925 to 1927 he studied at the Ceramics College in Bunzlau. In 1945 he was elected head of guild of the Thuringian potters’ guild. For decades he devoted himself to the training of young potters and implemented high standards, still accepted nowadays. Starting with traditionally decorated earthenware, he expanded the profile of his workshop step by step. The glaze became more and more important in his ceramic creative activity, contributing to the rejuvenation of the vessel aesthetics after 1945. Gebauer was one of the leading German specialists in the field of crystal glazes. His merits are honoured by awarding the Walter-Gebauer-Ceramics-Prize annually at the occasion of the Pottery Market in Bürgel.

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