The 20th anniversary of Kunsthalle Würth in Schwäbisch Hall, designed by architect Henning Larsen (Copenhagen), was celebrated with the exhibition “Leonhard Kern and Europe. The Imperial Treasury, Vienna and the Würth Collection”. The exhibition cast the spotlight on one of the leading German masters of early baroque sculpture, whose works created in Schwäbisch Hall were featured in the most distinguished collections in Europe. At the same time, Kunsthalle Würth continued its series of guest exhibitions with leading national and international collections, including the Berlin State Museums, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. They alternate sporadically with thematic exhibitions showcasing the vast works from the international Würth Collection. For example, the exhibition “Sports, Fun & Games in the Würth Collection,” which was launched on 13 December 2021, is devoted to the pleasures (and challenges) entailed by the phenomenon of leisure.
On 25 December 1991, a place for people to come together and enjoy art opened at the Würth Group’s headquarters in Künzelsau, the idea being to uphold a central idea of the entrepreneur Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth: bringing culture to the workplace for employees, but also giving guests an opportunity to participate. A sophisticated architectural structure unites the worlds of work, culture and leisure. Since then, Museum Würth has welcomed 2.33 million visitors to 73 exhibitions. In 1995, 82,000 guests visited Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s spectacular Wrapped Floors and Stairways, and Covered Windows alone. C. Sylvia Weber, Executive Vice President of the Würth Group for Arts and Culture: “Very early on, Reinhold Würth had already thought about the importance of art for his company and commissioned Danish sculptor Robert Jacobsen, who in turn invited his colleague and assistant Lun Tuchnowski, to design the forecourt. With the current anniversary exhibition ‘Geometry—Perception—Empathy. Lun Tuchnowski in the Würth Collection’, we have come full circle.”
Designed by David Chipperfield Architects from Berlin, Carmen Würth Forum in Künzelsau has been a sought-after venue for conferences, congresses, trade fairs, and symposia since it opened back in summer 2017. Multi-purpose event halls also offer a forum for a wide variety of musical, dance, and spoken word performances. As the home of the Würth Philharmoniker orchestra, the forum has also managed to make a name for itself as a meeting place for classical music fans in only a very short space of time. This was exactly what the initiator Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth and his wife Carmen, the Forum’s namesake, intended. After all, the couple has been committed for decades now to bringing inspiring experiences showcasing high-quality architecture, art, and culture into the everyday lives of employees, business partners, and interested members of the general public. With Museum Würth 2, which opened in 2020 to house centerpieces of modern and contemporary art from the top-class Würth Collection, and the extensive sculpture garden, the visual arts have been given their very own stage in this special location.
Würth Foundation The Berlin-based Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset were awarded the 14th Robert Jacobsen Prize by the Würth Foundation on 4 October 2021. The award ceremony was held in Carmen Würth Forum. “Their works are characterized by high social relevance and extreme poignancy,” was how the jury justified its decision to award the prize to Michael Elmgreen, born in Copenhagen in 1961, and Ingar Dragset, born in Trondheim in 1969. Time and again, the two artists explore the possibilities of art in public and institutional space. The prize, which has been awarded by the Würth Foundation in cooperation with Museum Würth every two years since 1993 in memory of the Danish sculptor Robert Jacobsen, was endowed with EUR 50,000 for the first time in 2021. The award was accompanied by a presentation of the artists’ works in Museum Würth 2.
The Würth Group’s ten European associated galleries at the national companies in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Spain, and Switzerland (Arlesheim, Chur, and Rorschach) continued to inspire their visitors with numerous exhibitions in 2021. The highly acclaimed “Art Faces” exhibition at the Würth Forum in Rorschach, for example, presented artists’ portraits from the Würth Collection.
The Würth Collection was also on display in state or municipal museums and in public places, with works on loan and in guest exhibitions, in some cases permanently. Several hundred works on loan from the collection were on tour worldwide in 2021 for visitors to enjoy at the Albertina in Vienna, for example. The Kunstgewerbemuseum of the Berlin State Museums hosted the Kunstkammer Würth from 10 December 2021, featuring around 70 exquisite exhibits including small sculptures, elaborately designed goblets, other drinking vessels, and intricate boxes. At the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar, Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Dadaist poetry machine has been generating verbal art entirely on its own since 2006—another loan from Würth.
In the gardens at Arenberg Palace and along the “Walk of Modern Art” in Salzburg, visitors can experience the most beautiful spots in the city with a view of contemporary art from the Würth Collection—for example by Christian Boltanski or James Turrell. In the center of Künzelsau, attractive sculptures from the Würth Collection have made up the “in situ” sculpture trail for years now.
After a break of several months owing to the pandemic, music returned to the stage of Carmen Würth Forum in Künzelsau from July onward. Highly renowned international stars were greeted by an enthusiastic audience. During the summer, guests to the museum were able to enjoy tastes of Würth Philharmoniker’s diverse repertoire in various sets. In the Great Hall, tenor Juan Diego Flórez, one of the greatest singers of our time, transported guests into “Sommerzeit” (Summertime) with his rousing evening of opera.
The Würth Philharmoniker orchestra opened its fifth season by playing “Endlich Beethoven!” (Beethoven at last!) under the direction of their principal conductor Claudio Vandelli. The concert experience “... ins Offene!” (... into the open!) had a reunion with conductor Kent Nagano. Piano virtuoso Sir András Schiff interpreted “Mozart vom Feinsten” (The best of Mozart). Other highlights of the 2021 fall classical music season at Würth included the performance by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, who transported the audience with her two-and-a-half octave vocal range into “Traumhafte Gesangswelten” (Divine vocal worlds), as well as the conducting of Martin Panteleev at the “Zauberhafte Virtuosität” (Enchanting Virtuosos) concert evening and the “Lieben Sie Sibelius?” (Do you love Sibelius?) series, which saw violinist Ksenia Dubrovskaya perform chamber music by the Finnish composer with guests.
The Würth Prize of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland (JMD), endowed with EUR 15,000, was awarded to Jörg Widmann in the year marking the 70th anniversary of the youth music association on 7 September 2021. The clarinetist, composer, conductor, and teacher was honored as a universal musician with playful virtuosity. The jury described Widmann as conveying energy, joy, and love of music to young musicians in particular.
At the award ceremony in Carmen Würth Forum in Künzelsau, Widmann gave a concert with the Würth Philharmoniker orchestra and showcased his skills as a soloist, conductor, and composer. In his laudatory speech, former President of the German Bundestag (German federal parliament) Professor Norbert Lammert stressed: “When he plays, Jörg Widmann not only opens our ears and hearts, but also our minds and our brains with his expositions and interpretations.”
Since 1991, the Würth Prize of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland has been awarded to artists, ensembles, or projects that embody the values and objectives of JMD in an exemplary fashion. Previous winners include conductor Gustavo Dudamel, percussionist Martin Grubinger, the orchestra STEGREIF.orchester, and the Education Programme of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
In 2021, and with key support provided by the Würth Foundation, Young Opera Schloss Weikersheim presented eleven open-air performances from Georges Bizet’s hit opera “Carmen”, all of which were sold out. Young singers from twelve nations took to the stage: Colombia, Chile, South Korea, Malaysia, China, France, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Slovenia, the United States of America, and South Africa. The Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra of Germany) played under the direction of Elias Grandy. Director Björn Reinke interpreted Carmen as the leader of a group of dissident artists in a performance that was far removed from all of the usual clichés.
Since 1965, the Young Opera has been organized every two years in the courtyard of Schloss Weikersheim. The productions mark the finale of the International Opera Academy of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland, which is considered one of the leading projects supporting young opera singers in Europe. Participation in the event gives the young artists the chance to embark on a big international career, as numerous directors of renowned opera houses attend the event to cast the stars of tomorrow.
In Forchtenberg-Ernsbach (district of Hohenlohe), Arnold Umformtechnik has invested EUR 3.5 million in renovating the Alte Mühle (Old Mill) building complex. The company L. & C. Arnold produced its very first set of screws in the old mill building back in 1898. Up until 2019, the building housed the development department of Arnold Umformtechnik.
The ensemble comprising the listed Rote Mühle (Red Mill), the historical carpenter’s workshop, and the warehouse featuring a saw-tooth roof was expanded to include a new modern building with an adjoining bistro as part of the renovation project. The careful renovation of the partially listed ensemble conveys an understanding of the roots of the historical building complex and establishes it as a vibrant meeting place for the present day. Today, the building houses the “Kocherwerk–Haus der Verbindungstechnik” museum, a joint project organized by the non-profit association “Förderer des Schrauben- und Befestigungsclusters Hohenlohe e. V.”, which was initiated by entrepreneur Reinhold Würth. A total of 19 companies from the assembly and fastening cluster in the Heilbronn-Franconia region are members of the association. The permanent exhibition devotes 400 square meters to the region’s economic history and the topic of connection technology.
Offering an opportunity to experience inspiring verbal art in an intimate setting and sharing select literary treasures with people of all ages is the biggest strength of the cultural center Kulturhaus Würth with Bibliothek Frau Holle library, which opened its doors in 2017 on the initiative of Carmen Würth. After remaining closed for six months, literature buffs were finally allowed to browse the more than 8,000 books from Carmen Würth’s private collection to their heart’s content again starting on 1 June 2021. The outdoor reading performances held from August onward also proved to be a real gift for young and old alike.
+++ The Würth Collection has enhanced its digital offering: Art at Würth can now be discovered in an inspiring way in the “Würth Collection” app, for the first time also featuring audio tours for children. Several 360-degree tours and popular online guided tours have also been created. +++ Former Finance Minister Dr. Theo Waigel and Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth discussed Europe at the “Treffpunkt Akademie” panel discussion on 13 September 2021. +++ Former German President Joachim Gauck and actress and dancer Mechthild Großmann took questions as part of the “Treffpunkt Forum” (Meeting at the Forum) series of talks at Carmen Würth Forum. +++ The Old Masters in the Würth Collection continued to draw visitors from beyond the region: By the end of 2021, more than 600,000 guests had visited Johanniterkirche in Schwäbisch Hall since it opened in 2008. +++ Anne Hausner’s Naturstücke (Nature Pieces) offered a captivating combination of poetry and technical perfection in the Hirschwirtscheuer museum in Künzelsau until 24 October 2021. Starting on 4 November 2021, Bernhard Betz and Andreas Ilg used the same museum to show that, in art, the unpredictable is often thought-provoking. +++
(Photo Header: Andi Schmid)