The most successful years of the Schule für Gestaltung (School of Design), founded in Weimar in 1919, are considered to have been from 1925 to 1932, when the Bauhaus was based in Dessau. In 1976, the Bauhaus Building in Dessau was reconstructed and given back its original appearance. The Wissenschaftlich-Kulturelles Zentrum (Scientific Cultural Centre, WKZ) was established there, and work began on building up a Bauhaus collection. The Bauhaus Dessau – Zentrum für Gestaltung (Centre for Design) was opened in 1986. The artistic-scientific Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, founded in 1994, is based on this wide range of very diverse heritage.

Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation operates in a historiographically reflexive manner, analysing the significance and potential of the Bauhaus heritage for the 21st century. It does this in the knowledge that historical narratives concerning the Bauhaus and its influence have long since reached a wider audience. In this process, there has been increasingly a move away from accounts focussing purely on Europe with claims of universal validity. Today, space is given to a diverse range of narratives, encounters, and discussions with and about the Bauhaus. It is a balancing act to reconcile the expectations of a wide range of groups: tourists, politicians, academics, design specialists, local residents, the international audience, and others.

What does the Foundation do today?

One of the Foundation’s ongoing tasks is to assess and update the multi-faceted 20th century Bauhaus heritage. Prototypical work is carried out in the various areas of the Foundation – in projects that span several years and short-term interventions, in exhibitions and design, in mediation and communication, in collecting and in scientific research as well as in cultural education, heritage conservation, and building. All our work takes place in collaboration with others – with our partners all over the world as well as at regional and local levels in Dessau-Roßlau.

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is a non-profit foundation under public law, financed by the State of Saxony-Anhalt, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media , and the city of Dessau-Roßlau.

Building, research and maintenance

The Bauhaus Building and the Masters’ Houses were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996. The Houses with Balcony Access in Dessau-Törten followed in 2017. Conservation is therefore central for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, as is the research archive’s scientific work on materials and building processes in the modernist period, which creates a basis essential for preserving monuments. Our goal is to reconcile monument protection with the challenges of climate change, reducing our own ecological footprint. We continuously develop concepts and prototypical applications to reconcile monument preservation and climate protection. Our aim is to move away from a “repair strategy” towards a more sustainable approach, based on restoration and prevention. Further, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation ensures that the Bauhaus buildings are open to the public, so that they can be experienced first-hand.

Collecting and researching

With over 50,000 objects, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation has the second largest collection on the subject of the Bauhaus in the world, after the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. With the opening of the Bauhaus Museum in 2019 it was possible for the first time to mount comprehensive public presentations of the collection, with a focus on teaching, learning, and creative processes at the historic Bauhaus. As a research institution, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation networks with international Bauhaus research, to which it makes significant contributions with its own projects and publications. In addition to researching and processing new additions to the collection, central research themes in Dessau are the Bauhaus and migration, Bauhaus Written Heritage, and the recent history of the Bauhaus Dessau and its development from the German Democratic Republic era into the Foundation it is today. We are working to make this knowledge accessible on digital platforms. Publications are produced regularly on Bauhaus topics, including the Bauhaus Edition and the Bauhaus Pocketbook series.

Publicising and shaping

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation makes content available to the public in several ways – through exhibitions, events, performances, communication, and digital services. In this way, formal innovations are linked with sustainability, design deconstruction and inclusive strategies. The Foundation also contributes to research on current topics of international design practice and visual culture.

Another essential task is communicating Bauhaus ideas and themes, for example, through guided tours and workshops. In 2016, the German Federal Cultural Foundation initiated the Bauhaus Agents programme, which was scheduled to run for a period of four years. It was originally conceived to support the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in developing curatorial concepts for the programme of the Bauhaus Museum Dessau. However, it continues to function at various levels today, most recently as part of the Saxony-Anhalt Project – New European Bauhaus, in which the Foundation has participated since 2021.

Living, working and staying overnight

In 2016, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation introduced the Bauhaus Residency, a programme in which artists are invited to live and work in the Muche/Schlemmer House for longer periods of time. This programme actually follows on from the first residents of the Masters’ Houses and the artists who worked at the Bauhaus. In collaboration with the Kurt Weill Society, an annual scholarship is awarded to young musicians, who then perform at the Kurt Weill Festival. Visitors can also experience the Bauhaus at first hand by booking an overnight stay in the studio building.

Learning, researching and teaching

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation provides information on the programmatic approaches of the educational heritage of the Bauhaus. It updates these in internationally oriented formats of learning, research and teaching – specifically with the Bauhaus Lab, the Bauhaus Open Studios, and the COOP Design Research Master’s programme, which is organised in cooperation with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and the Humboldt University of Berlin. The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is now a platform for an international network of colleges and universities, initiatives, students, and young professionals from the fields of architecture, design, curatorial practice, and cultural studies. The historic learning environment of the Bauhaus Building is associated with the worldwide search processes and learning experiments of contemporary design research, education and practices that address the planetary challenges of the present day.

Performing on stage and celebrating

Like the Bauhaus itself, the Bauhaus stage and its programme were subject to very many upheavals. The stage played an important role in almost every Bauhaus celebration – and continues to do so today. The Bauhaus Festival, which focusses on various themes, has been held at the beginning of September every year since 1997. Another important part of today’s stage work – in addition to researching, realising, and updating stage projects and the staging of contemporary festivals – is the scholarly reconstruction of historical costumes, sets, and performance practices.

Shaping structural change

As part of a large network, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is committed to structural change in the State of Saxony-Anhalt, particularly fossil fuel phase-out, and pursues concepts of sustainability at several levels. The Saxony-Anhalt Project – New European Bauhaus enables alliances to be formed across institutional and disciplinary boundaries through the involvement of civil society initiatives. The contribution of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation thus connects local and European initiatives, particularly in the area of cultural education, but also in the building sector with an emphasis on material cycles.

Gendering and simple language

In the spirit of social inclusion, we want to address as many groups as possible and also give smaller communities space and visibility. Language is alive, it changes, how much can be seen in the various editions of the Duden. For us, there is also a historical reference: teachers and students at the Bauhaus broke with social conventions in various places, including capitalisation. For reasons of modernity, all texts were written in lower case. This also did not conform to the standard spelling rules at the time.

As the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, we decided in favour of the * asterisk for the following reasons: The German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired recommends the use of the asterisk. It is the most frequently used short form and thus comes closest to the desire for a consensus symbol. In addition, the asterisk could be easier to recognise for visually impaired people than the colon and underscore.

We try to approach the form of simple language.

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation tries to make this website comprehensible to as many people as possible. It is our aim to present information about visits to the Bauhaus, the buildings, and events in an engaging way, using clear and simple language and images.

As we wish to reach as many people as possible via our website, who are obviously from all walks of life with a wide range of backgrounds, we try to use language that is clear and concise. Our visitors come from all over the world.

Additionally, we provide the most important information separately in “simple language”, which you can access via the Plain Language symbol.