Joseph Beuys Felt Suit Devoured by Moths in German Museum

The infestation did not spread to other felt works.

Joseph Beuys, The Pack (1969) is permanently installed at the Neue Galerie in Kassel since 1976. The moth-eaten suit hangs in the far end. Photo Arno Hensmanns, courtesy Neue Galerie.

The seminal room-filling installation Das Rudel (The Pack) (1969) by Joseph Beuys, one of the most prized pieces in the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie in Kassel, has fallen victim to a moth attack.

The museum reported on Wednesday that the important artwork, which Beuys personally installed in the museum in 1976, had visible moth damage on one of its components—a felt suit.

The multiple-piece artwork also includes a Volkswagen van from 1961, 24 wooden sleighs carrying torchlights, and felt blankets rolled up and fastened by leather belts. A felt suit and an additional felt blanket hang from the ceiling above.

The moth-eaten suit has been temporarily removed from the installation for special treatment.

“The insects have presumably already eaten a few holes into the felt,” explained a museum spokeswoman. “However, due to their small size, these will not be visible to the visitors and do not endanger the substance of the suit.”

Moth infestations are not uncommon in museums, especially where natural textiles are exhibited. Beuys, who associated felt with warmth, often used this as well as other natural materials in his work. He referred to pieces such as The Pack, which include felt elements, as “warmth sculptures.”

The Kassel museum said it monitors the collection regularly using pheromone traps. After the removal of the felt suit from the installation, no other pieces have been found to be infested.

Located near the Karlsaue Park in Kassel, the Neue Galerie has also been used as a temporary exhibition space for Documenta since the 1960s, and is closely linked to the prestigious quinquennial contemporary art exhibition, which takes place again this year.


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