Founded in 1832, Kunstverein Braunschweig has become one of the most respected and internationally recognized art associations in Germany. Its program – featuring six to nine solo or group exhibitions and other projects each year – highlights significant developments in international contemporary art.
Central to the Kunstverein’s concept is the promotion of emerging artists against the background of current artistic and socio-political discourses; it also regularly enables the production of new works. Kunstverein Braunschweig defines itself as a lively place of exchange and dialogue. Committed to enhancing the perception and appreciation of contemporary art, it actively engages audiences with an array of guided tours, workshops, lectures, artist talks, and publications.
Parallel to the program in Villa Salve Hospes is the program in the adjacent Remise (coach house), where exhibitions have been held 1996. As a field for experimentation, the Remise offers a further platform for innovative contemporary art and curatorial projects.
VILLA SALVE HOSPES – EARLY CLASSICAL MANSION
Kunstverein Braunschweig has been located in the Villa Salve Hospes on Lessingplatz since 1946. Built between 1805 and 1808, architect Peter Joseph Krahe designed it as a private residence for merchant Dietrich Wilhelm Krause in the classical style. Its clear, simple layout evokes the tradition of Renaissance-era Venetian villas. Typifying this style is Villa La Rotonda, an elaborate residence designed by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.
At the heart of the villa’s spatial concept is its central arrangement of rooms and the vertical and horizontal visual axes that open up between them. The defining feature of the house is its axis through the main entrance, with its scenic ties to the park. The villa’s two floors accommodate nearly 400 square meters of exhibition space.
THE VILLA AS KUNSTVEREIN VENUE
Villa Salve Hospes and Kunstverein Braunschweig were established around the same time in the first half of the nineteenth century, but they also share another common link in their ties to architect Peter Joseph Krahe. Krahe – who designed the villa – also joined other citizens of Braunschweig in founding the Verein der Kunstfreunde (Art Lovers’ Association), the predecessor of today’s Kunstverein and one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Germany. Krahe was active on the board of this association until his death in 1840, and served as its first chairman from 1834 onward. The association initially used other buildings for its exhibitions (Vieweg Haus on Burgplatz, for example) before finding a permanent home at Villa Salve Hospes in 1946, one year after the end of the Second World War.
Use of the buildings for exhibitions has made it possible to preserve their historical condition. Any necessary technical installations have been done in careful accordance with heritage preservation requirements, retaining the integrity of the original interior space and its decorative fittings.
The striking visual contrast between the classical villa and contemporary art has sparked an interesting dialogue over the years – one that continues to this day.