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Museum director Friedrich Fries, with the support of numerous benefactors and sponsors, acquired works of Dutch painting from the 15th and 17th centuries, examples of French painting and landscapes by Henri Rousseau, Charles-François Daubigny, Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet were purchased. To show the development of German painting in the 19th century was close to Friedrich Fries’ heart. In 1910, the exhibition of the “Neue Künstlervereinigung München” was also shown in the Elberfelder Museum after a first stop in the Barmer Kunsthalle. In 1911, through the mediation of August von der Heydt, the Elberfelder Museumsverein acquired Pablo Picasso’s painting “Acrobat and Young Harlequin” (1905) in Paris, which was donated to the Elberfeld Municipal Museum (confiscated by the Nazis in 1937 as “degenerate art”). It is the first work of Picasso in a museum.
(August 31), Elberfeld and Barmen merged to form the city of Wuppertal. The first museum director, Dr. Friedrich Fries, retired in 1929 after 27 years in office. Dr. Victor Dirksen was appointed as the new museum director in 1929 (in office until 1952). The artistic director of the Barmer Kunstverein, which had existed since 1866, Dr. Richart Reiche, resigned in 1931. Dr. Dirksen was now the director of both, the Elberfeld Municipal Museum and the Hall of Fame in Barmen. The museum was renamed the Städtisches Museum Wuppertal. After August von der Heydt died in 1929, his widow, Selma von der Heydt, donated paintings by Paul Gauguin, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Emil Nolde, Heinrich Nauen, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Max Pechstein to the museum in his memory.
The city of Wuppertal now had two museums under one management: the Kunsthalle Barmen with its progressive exhibition policy and the Städtisches Museum in Elberfeld with its collection of old and new art. A new era dawned. The collection of antique plaster casts was handed over to the schools.
parts of the museum collection were moved in several transports from Elberfeld to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress. In May 1943, the Barmen Hall of Fame burned down and with it valuable remaining stocks in the basement depot. During the bombing raid on Elberfeld on June 25, 1943, the museum was severely damaged, the second floor completely destroyed. Only the outer walls of the corner Wall/Turmhof remained.
The art collection stored in the house of the Von der Heydt family on Kerstenplatz burned. The explosion of a fuel barrel destroyed the entire contents of a depot in Cologne-Mülheim and with it the part of the museum’s ceramic collection stored there.
exhibitions and lectures were held again in the museum already in December. Through the initiative of the businessmen, the first floor was restored. On September 5, 1950, repaired exhibition halls on the upper floor were reopened. Until 1953, exhibitions of the museum were also held in the “Studio for New Art” in the house of the architect Heinz Rasch at Döppersberg 24. The spirit of optimism after the war led to the merger of the two art associations – the Barmer Kunstverein and the Elberfelder Museumsverein – to form the Kunst- und Museumsverein Wuppertal in 1946. As successor to Dr. Viktor Dirksen, Dr. Harald Seiler became the new museum director in 1952 (until 1962).
First exhibitions in the Barmer Kunsthalle. In mid-1953, establishment of a “Studio for New Art” in the Ruhmeshalle, which was closed in 1955 due to pending renovation work.
Completion of the reconstruction of the Hall of Fame in a modified form. The rooms were opened with the exhibition “Modern Art in Wuppertal Private Ownership”. Numerous temporary exhibitions of the museum were held in Barmen from then on.
The former “Hall of Fame”, now known as the “House of Youth”, was listed as a historical monument.