Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Motivated by thoughts on perception and presentation — a long-time concern at the offices of Herzog & de Meuron in sharing our own works and projects — the Kabinett has become a place for us to document our specific approach to thinking about architecture and to offer the potential of collaborating with a variety of disciplines. Opening the Kabinett, or parts of it, as a kind of laboratory for research, teaching, and exchange with national and international institutions is tested actively in various scenarios.
The Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel (“Kabinett”) is a non-profit foundation, established in 2015, comprising three sub-Kabinetts — Architektur, Kunst, and Foto — with the aim to keep these holdings intact as a cultural asset and to work with them in their specificity.
The foundation was established with the intention of making the entire body of the estate, divided into sub-Kabinetts, accessible to the public. Our aim, first and foremost, was to have the holdings permanently domiciled in Basel in their entirety so that they may contribute to the cultural substance of our native city, which has been a lifelong inspiration to us. To that end, the museums and institutions in Basel will have priority in the consideration of possible loan inquiries. The Kunstmuseum Basel, in particular, will be privileged should there be an interest in presenting parts of the Kabinett on permanent loan. Logically, therefore, the respective director of the Kunstmuseum joins Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Kabinett director Esther Zumsteg as the fourth member of the board. In addition, by establishing the Kabinett, we have found a means of resolving issues of inheritance and ensuring that the substance of our estate will not be traded on the art market.
Why a Kabinett?
The term “Kabinett” (cabinet) stands for something intimate, something that has emerged and been preserved with great care over the course of many decades and, above all, something that should remain fruitfully workable despite its substantial holdings. Equally, it is a Kabinett because—to the extent the conservatorial considerations permit—the entire archive is installed for viewing and use in our Helsinki Dreispitz building, which is by nature more of a showroom than a warehouse.
An extremely diverse concatenation of mutually complementary parts is integrated into the Kabinett, representing the multiplicity and openness that has always been crucial to our collaborative approach. These parts are organized in sub-Kabinetts, defined by content that shares related archival properties and requirements. The subdivision ensures a better overview as well as individualized care and accessibility.
All the items and materials produced, collected, and archived in the offices of Herzog & de Meuron since 1978 are divided into categories as follows: a Kabinett of plans (including analog and digital technical drawings), a Kabinett of drawings (sketches, sketchbooks, and diagrams—all of our own making with very few exceptions), a Kabinett of visual culture (renderings, photographs, films, and videos), a Kabinett of models (including experiments with materials and full-scale mockups), a Kabinett of texts (written documents, essays, descriptions of projects, theoretical studies, organograms, and texts by others such as reviews and press materials).
We have come into the possession of numerous artworks over the years, all of them from artist friends with whom we have tried out many different ways of working together. Acquired through purchase, as gifts, or as working material, they are now gathered together here as crucial and indispensable forms of expression and constituents of our own work. This is eminently illustrated by the reconstruction of Rémy Zaugg’s “test room” for his 27-part work Vom Tod II (About Death II). Having this test room with us here in our Kabinett is an exceptional source of energy.
We have acquired the magnificent and wide-ranging collection of photographs formerly in possession of Ruth and Peter Herzog of Basel. The spontaneous decision to make this acquisition was fostered by a concrete opportunity and without strategic intent. This collection is unique worldwide and contains over 500,000 photographs (some 3,000 albums, 1,400 boxes, and 400 framed objects) ranging from the earliest days of the medium, invented in 1839, to the 1970s. Since 2015, it has been integrated into the Kabinett as an independent entity under its original name (Fotosammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog). We liked the idea that this collection would be an exceptionally enriching contribution to our Kabinett, greatly enhancing its atmosphere as a “Wunderkammer”. This may seem unusual alongside its architectural holdings, but it was a perfectly logical step, given our long-standing relationship with Ruth and Peter Herzog.
Since acquiring the collection in 2015, we have been taking meticulous stock of its sheer “mythical holdings” with the aim of producing a complete scholarly inventory of all of the photographs and albums in the collection and thus providing a basis for future publications and research projects. The online collection, a digital “encyclopedia” accessible to the public since July of 2020, is the first step.
Above all, the overriding motivation behind the acquisition was the enrichment of Basel as a city of art alongside its most important institution, the Kunstmuseum, which now has the opportunity to regularly draw on the systematized and catalogued holdings of the collection.
Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel, 2020.
Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel
Rheinschanze 6, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
The Jacques Herzog und Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, Basel in the Dreispitz area in Basel has been active since 2015. It is not open to the public. Visits are possible by appointment for specialists and for interdisciplinary research. Making the Kabinett, or parts of it, accessible to the public is one of various future scenarios.
For further information regarding the Kabinett, including how to become a supporter, please contact us using the information above.
Deyan Sudjic: Laboratory and Cabinet of Curiosities. The archive of Herzog & de Meuron in Basel.
In: werk, bauen + wohnen. Zurich, Verlag Werk AG, Zurich, 4.2015, pp. 22-32.
Gerhard Mack: “Man muss dem Ort, an dem man lebt, Sorge tragen”. In: Felix E. Müller (Ed.). Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag. Zurich , Neue Zürcher Zeitung AG, 14.06.2015. pp. 66-67
Bice Curiger, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron: “Bewusstes Wahrnehmen ist angesagt.”
In: Eric Guyer (Ed.). Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 18.04.2020. pp. 44-46.
Exposure Time. Photographs from the Collection Ruth and Peter Herzog.
Edited by: Olga Osadtschy, Paul Mellenthin. Basel: Christoph Merian, 2020. Publication on the occasion of the exhibition: The Incredible World of Photography. Ruth and Peter Herzog Collection. Kunstmuseum Basel, 18 July–4 October 2020