Digital Collection: Kunsthalle Mannheim


The Kunsthalle Mannheim is a museum of modern and contemporary art, established in 1909 and located in Mannheim, Germany. The building designed by Hermann Billing was erected as a temporary structure to serve an “International Art Exhibition” of 1907, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the city. Originally meant to be torn down after this exhibition, the building was transformed into a municipal art gallery which since then housed the city’s art collections as well as temporary exhibitions – and up to 1927 those of the local Mannheimer Kunstverein as well as its administration.

The appearance of the Art Nouveau, Kunsthalle Mannheim building was redesigned for the opening in October 2013. This redesign was intended to transform the visible statement of the institution in order to strengthen and consolidate its international significance. Hagen & jäger accompanied the Kunsthalle in its biggest development process in its one hundred year history: In 2017 Gerkan, Marg and Partner designed the largest new building for modern and contemporary art in Germany.

“It is about rethinking the museum institution and going new ways in the daily routine,” says Dr. Ulrike Lorenz, describing the goal. “We want to be a magical place that attracts and changes people. A visit to a museum must always be a formative experience. ”

The Kunsthalle Mannheim used the concept of “new practicality” for a whole art direction and has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures and graphics of the 19th and 20th centuries. Germany, it counts with top works from Edouard Manet to Francis Bacon and a unique sculpture focus on the most prestigious collections of German and international modernity to the present day.


Caspar David Friedrich, Evening with clouds, 1824, Kunsthalle Mannheim collection

Digital collection

With its digital strategy, Kunsthalle Mannheim is opening up new fields of activity and communication channels. The aim of this strategy is to make Kunsthalle Mannheim accessible worldwide, but also to appeal to a younger, tech-savvy audience.

“The experience of original art in exchange with others is something that no smartphone can or should replace,” explains Dr. Ulrike Lorenz, director of Kunsthalle Mannheim. “But we aim to use technology to prepare and guide our visitors—not only with background information, but with experiences, experiments, games, online courses, and other unique opportunities.”

Journey through the cosmos of the collection

Sensitive artworks can usually only be displayed for a few weeks, before being returned to a dark warehouse for years. The graphic works must go through a slow and closely monitored process. The Graphic Collection of Kunsthalle Mannheim is now online and contains around 30,000 light-sensitive works. These works—not the originals, but rather the digital versions—are now being gradually brought to light in high-resolution images. The first 1,500 masterpieces are already live, and more are being added every month.After the fragile sheets of paper have been carefully lifted from the large portfolio folders and archive boxes, they are meticulously photographed. The aim of this process is to convey not only the quality of the pencil, charcoal line, or the watercolor tone, but also to convey the look of the paper and how it has aged.


The multiyear “Sammlung Online” project is a part of Kunsthalle Mannheim’s digitalization efforts. The main goal is to make all the treasures in Kunsthalle Mannheim’s collection available to everyone around the clock. Audio clips, videos, and concise blocks of text—appropriate for all audiences—draw vibrant connections between paintings and sculptures, and between contemporary installations and works from the past: What inspired this artist’s working concept? Why did that artist use those particular materials in her or his work? What historic event does the painting treat? What does the restoration process reveal about a sculpture?

This digitally enhanced journey through the Kunsthalle’s collection is accessible, entertaining, and provides an in-depth examination of individual works of art.  Access the online collection is simple and can be explored by following various paths, both guided and independent: Individuals can search according to subject or artist, epoch or style.

The website and the original works in the museum form an indivisible whole. However, only in Kunsthalle Mannheim itself—face-to-face with the original—can you experience the true fascination of this unique combination.




Graphics online. Now on

Go behind the scenes and spend 40 seconds in the Graphic Collection

Visit the website and find out more about the digital strategy of Kunsthalle Mannheim.
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Discover art through a variety of experiences

With support of BW-Stiftung



About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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