Wilhelm Lehmbruck was one of the most prominent sculptors of the modern age. Designed by his son Manfred Lehmbruck, the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg is an architectural monument to the sculptor that is regarded today as an outstanding ensemble of post-war modernism. The younger Lehmbruck designed three individual buildings, each of which has an entirely unique architectural language: the Great Glass Hall and the Lehmbruck Wing, both from 1964, and the 1987 annex building. Nestled in Duisburg’s Immanuel Kant Park, the Lehmbruck Museum is surrounded by a sculpture garden.
The original bipartite museum ensemble consists of the Great Glass Hall for temporary exhibitions and the Lehmbruck Wing for Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s works. It constitutes the focal point of the collection of international sculptures from the modernist era to the present day. The two buildings are linked by a low, glazed entrance pavilion with broad steps. The Great Glass Hall has a simple design with a rectangular floor plan and extensive glazing. It is an open building that is oriented outward to the park. Similar to Mies van der Rohe’s later Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the interior can be used flexibly thanks to its columns being located on the outside.
In contrast to the glazed hall, the Lehmbruck Wing, with its square floor plan, is more strongly oriented inwards. Curved walls of exposed concrete reveal only limited views of the park and create an intimate atmosphere. Skylight bands and an open central court orchestrate the incoming daylight. From outside, the building appears smaller because it is sunk into the ground. Inside, it is subdivided by multiple gallery levels with long flights of stairs, which allows for different perspectives on the exhibited sculptures.
Shortly after its inauguration, the museum was already in need of expansion. So together with the architect Klaus Hänsch, Lehmbruck designed a third building, which was built between 1983 and 1987. It is connected to the south end of the Great Glass Hall and is composed of three differently sized, interlocked windowless cubes. Their diagonal alignment breaks with the rectangular geometry of the original buildings. At the same time, this creates a transition between the park and the museum courtyard. [KS/DK]