Artist Thomas Schütte Is Building a Private Museum Dedicated to His Own Artwork

He claims it's cheaper than renting storage space.

Schütte's sculpture hall. Photo: RKW Architekten

The German sculptor Thomas Schütte is constructing a museum to house his artwork in the town of Hombroich, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of Düsseldorf.

The new structure—which will offer 700 square meters (1,300 sq. ft.) of floor space when completed—was designed by Schütte, and is being built close to the grounds of the Museumsinsel Hombroich, a multi-building complex that also houses the collection of the German collector Karl-Heinrich Müller.

Although not formally trained as an architect, Schütte has engaged with architecture since the 1980s. He designed an ice pavilion in Kassel’s Karlsaue park for documenta 8 in 1987, and five of his designs for holiday homes have been realized.

Schütte has been planning his museum for three years and has gone through seven different models before handing over his plans to the Düsseldorf-based RKW Architects to execute his vision. Every detail, including light switches and power outlets, has been approved and inspected by the artist.ütte

“The museum is only for sculptures. We won’t be drilling hundreds of holes into the walls and hanging pictures here,” Schütte told Deutschlandfunk. “What’s missing is a large exhibition space for sculpture; there’s lots of spaces here in Hombroich, but they’re only white cubes. Pictures, photos, video—that doesn’t really interest me. This space is meant for sculptures.”

The museum will also include office space for curators, a ticket counter, a library, and crucially—a gigantic storage facility in the basement.

“That was actually the starting point,” Schütte explained. “Thinking about what to do with all this stuff after I’m dead.”

“One cannot simply leave it to the children,” he said. “Art storage costs as much as an apartment, not including insurance. And if you need 500 square meters of space (1,640 sq. ft.), it can get very expensive if you don’t plan ahead. That’s why we have a storage space in the basement where we can put everything that belongs to me and the foundation.”

Thomas Schütte Fratelli detail (2012) Photo: Frith Street Gallery, London

Thomas Schütte Fratelli detail (2012)
Photo: Frith Street Gallery, London

Schütte’s foundation—which he established to operate the museum—will manage his estate after his death. As long as he is alive, the sculptor will pay rent for the storage of his own art. And there’s plenty of it.

Schütte has long made it his policy to sell only a quarter of his artistic output. He says he’s earned enough money and wants to make his work available to museums for free—bypassing rich collectors who often demand loan fees from institutions.

Schütte is joining an elite group of artists that have established private museums which also includes Damien Hirst and Donald Judd.

The museum will open on April 10 with an exhibition featuring works by the Italian Arte-Povera artist Mario Merz.

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