A Fragile Heritage
Aspects of Historic Glass
Cambridge - Wednesday 6th September 2017

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article posted 17 Mar 2014

Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk (b. 1967) is head of Glasmuseum Hentrich, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, in Dusseldorf, Germany. After receiving his doctorate from Humboldt University, Berlin, he worked at the Bröhan-Museum (a museum specialized in Art Nouveau and Art Déco decorative arts) in Berlin 1998–-2003.

From 2004 until 2008, he was curator of European glass at The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York. As such, he was responsible for the museum’s collections from the Middle Ages to about 1900.

In Dusseldorf, he curated in 2014 the show "Art and Alchemy - The Mystery of Transformation" in collaboration with Sven Dupré, Lawrence Principe, and Beat Wismer.

Major publications:

The Glass Museum - A Fragile Institution
Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk

Glasmuseum Hentrich, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf

The closing in 2015 of the Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford, England, and the very recent threat of a possible closure of the Glasmuseum Immenhausen, Germany, has brought to our attention the fact that museums are not necessarily and automatically the safe harbours that we might wish them to be. Glass museums in particular are a fairly young institution, and, despite their narrow focus on one material only, they come in a wide variety.

This paper provides a short overview of the history of glass museums, in order to then address their raison d'être: how ought a glass museum fulfill its role in educating the public on the artistic and/or historic significance of glass? Or, more bluntly: Why should the public be informed about glass?


Glass model of a frigate, probably Venice, about 1815; size 57 x 76.6 x 32.5 cm, Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf, Glasmuseum Hentrich (Gl mkp 2016-42). Foto: Studio Fuis, ARTOTHEK. This recent acquisition adds to the museum?s collection about everything that a curator could wish for: it tells a story (war ship during the times of the Napoleonic wars, sporting the Austrian flag), it provides - although also a "vessel" - for a pleasant change from the usual objects on display, and it excites curiosity ("is it all glass?" "How is it made?').

View of the Glasmuseum Hentrich, Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf, 2016, Foto: LVR-ZMB, Stefan Arendt, ARTOTHEK. The current display goes back to a renovation in 2006, which introduced a three-storeyed, deep red "treasure house" that provides a chronological tour through the collection's highlights.