HLMD: Animals and Archaeology

Here we go, the promised second post about the HLMD, this time about the natural history and archaeology collections. If you are sensitive towards taxidermy this might not be the post for you. Just saying. I left out the dissected pigeons, though.


They put the Bad Vilbel Oceanus mosaic right next to the entrance under a glass roof mocking an atrium, a well-made presentation for the biggest Roman mosaic we have in Hesse.


I think she looks a bit like a Tove Jansson character, to be honest.


The non-antiquity archaeological exhibition of the HLMD is located right next to the Art Nouveau den on the subterranean level of the museum in the old workshops. This means that they don’t have much space to showcase their exhibits but they did the best job they could with what they were given.


I might have a thing for early medieval damascened belt buckles. Or damascened things in general.


See that hatchet on the top? That’s my favourite form, Lanquaid II.


On the other side of the corridor there are two courtyards, this is the Gothic one. All the fern and the high walls make it a place perfect for fairytale or myth readings.


Enough with the remains of generations past, onwards to zoology.


The Darmstadt Dioramas are special as they are part of the original concept of the HLMD, all the way back from 1906 (the taxidermy is even older!). They were luckily not destroyed during WWII, but restored with a little help from old photographs and are now again part of the show.


They call it the skeleton herd. I call it the skeleton army.


The main focus of this department is biodiversity, and how preparation works.

Some of the exhibited tools and of course taxidermy is from the 18th century when the museum was founded as the personal Wunderkammer collection of the local prince.
They also have two of the most fabulous pigeons ever.


The museum is so large that they have guided tours themed for each bigger department. Zoology alone can keep you busy for two hours or so.


Aaand we’re done. Good riddance, HLMD, at least for another year! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful museum, just not when you visit it twice in one week and both times heavily pressed for time and your professor messes up the timing for your presentation (I’ve been the tiniest bit stressed out lately).

Anyway, this is a great example for a museum that came from a noble’s collection, stuffed with interesting things and able to keep you busy for a whole day. Again, they have a website, and now you won’t have to read another post on museums until the middle of December. ^^


HLMD: Arts and Crafts

Time for another museum! This time it’s the Hessische Landesmuseum Darmstadt (Hessian County Museum set in Darmstadt) or HLMD for short. This is the museum I had to present during the seminar on museum and exhibition concepts and maybe it’s because of that or because the museum is HUGE with its 18,000m² that I took so many pictures that I’ll divide the post in two. I’ll have one for arts and crafts (which also includes Arts & Crafts pieces) and one for natural history and archaeology. This is the Arts and Crafts one. Let’s go!

The current building was designed especially for this museum which was given to the public in 1820 by then-ruler of Hesse-Darmstadt, Ludewig I., who had inherited the initial items for his growing collection of botanical and physical items from his mother, Karoline Henriette. He then added arts and crafts, and thus the museum came to be.
His successor Ernst Ludwig (yes, we had a lot of those) commissioned the new building in 1897 and it only took eight years to complete so in 1906 its gates finally opened for the public once more.


Most of the gallery is housed in a newer building from the 1980s, funnily it’s the older paintings that are exhibited there, the collection of modern art after 1945 is set up in the old building. They have a horribly large collection of Joseph Beuys’ works but gladly I wasn’t allowed to take pictures there, so I can’t even bother you with photographs of lard lumps and felt even if I wanted to. (I don’t.)
To balance it out their old masters’ collection is wonderful, among Cranach and Rubens they even have Waterhouse’s Belle Dame Sans Merci (but I was too busy staring at it in awe to take a picture).

While we’re at it, why don’t we start with the gallery?


The rooms are beautifully arranged, and other than the old building the new one has wooden floors instead of stone and lower ceilings, causing less echoes and general audible distraction.





The Jugendstil and Art Nouveau collection is located in the former workshops for the restaurateurs and taxidermists on the subterranean level of the museum. Especially the extensive jewelery section is beautifully arranged, it felt just like a fancy jeweler’s showroom.



Of course the cases are originals.


This Fabergé storks-and-mistletoe New Year’s gift necklace is probably my favourite from the whole collection. Then again, I’m always a fan of mistletoe ornaments, so Art Nouveau is the perfect period for me to look.


Yet the Lalique peacock ivory comb isn’t too shabby, either.


This beautiful ornament was part of the original Métro design from Paris. I’m thinking about using it as a template for an embroidery or something like that.



Even though it’s only a test for glazes I think it’s beautiful.




And that’s a real Morris. I’ve been in reach of a real Morris window! *faints*
Her face is a bit off, though.

Upstairs is the artisan gallery, and one of the displays I was most interested in was the one for textiles.


The garments – the collection is actually bigger, but only few of them are being presented at a time as they are very fragile – were put on rotating mannequins, a very neat idea.


They even had a glass harmonica (I have a thing for unusual instruments).


There’s a whole room dedicated to the reception of antiquity with cork models and paintings.



I’m glad they put it into perspective like that, and the field glasses are a great idea, too.

To close on the art and artisanry part let’s have a look into what they call the treasury.


The lighting concept in there is beautiful, the room is dark and only the showcases are lit, making the beautiful items in there glitter and gleam.




And here we end with part one. For more information and exhibits, have a look at the HLMD website or wait for the second part, or both.