100 years German Leather Museum Offenbach
Offenbach was once the leather centre of Germany. In 1917, the German Leather Museum (Deutsches Ledermuseum) was opened here with a collection of historical models for the training of young designers, craftsmen, and leather goods producers.
Today, the museum counts more than 30,000 exhibits from all cultures and epochs. These are divided into three collection areas: Applied Arts, Ethnology and the German Shoe Museum. This makes the German Leather Museum the only museum in the world that exclusively collects and presents everything related to the material of leather.
On the occasion of its 100th birthday, the German Leather Museum is showing a large exhibition on its treasures and gives insights into the future. Until 13th May 2018, you can visit “LEATHER.WORLD.HISTORY. (LEDER. WELT. GESCHICHTE.”) see classic leather goods and outstanding individual works up to the latest objects made of similar materials.
To mark the anniversary, I talked to the museum director, Dr. Inez Florschütz.
Dr. Florschütz, the current jubilee exhibition shows the 130 most outstanding exhibits from the entire museum collection and is divided into four thematic groups. Please tell us more about this.
In the anniversary exhibition “LEATHER.WORLD.HISTORY.” (“LEDER. WELT.GESCHICHTE.”) which we have now extended until May 13, 2018, 100 years of the German Leather Museum (1917 – 2017) are presented in four overarching thematic groups – “Leather City Offenbach on the Main” (“Lederstadt Offenbach am Main”), “Living with Leather” (“Mit Leder leben”), “Leather Making History (“Leder macht Geschichte”) and “Leather Opening Worlds” (“Leder öffnet Welten”).
Taken from all three collection areas – the Applied Arts, the Ethnology, and the German Shoe Museum – we have selected the objects according to their cultural-historical or aesthetic importance, but also from the perspective of the artefacts’ individual stories deriving from different times and geographical origins.
The special feature is that the exhibition relies on exciting dialogues and cross-references by forming pairs of objects or groups and thus draws attention to the connections and contradictions alike.
Which German handbag labels are on display at the museum and the exhibition? What specialties do these carry?
In our collection we have among others, exhibits from companies that once stood for the flourishing Offenbach leather industry, but unfortunately no longer exist today, for example the company Goldpfeil.
However, we actively continue to collect young designers such as the TSATSAS, who have been designing bags in Frankfurt for five years and are producing in Offenbach. One of the most famous wearers of her bags should probably be Hillary Clinton.
Does the German Leather Museum own a particularly outstanding exhibit?
Especially when we look into the past, we come across bizarre objects in our collection. For example, a bag made of bovine stomach from the 1040s. In times of need one had to look for substitute material to the valuable raw material leather and so it happened that one also turned to beef stomach for a lady’s handbag.
The German Leather Museum offers plenty of activities to discover leather. What are these?
In addition to our guided tour of the exhibition and on specific topics such as “The Leather City Offenbach” or “I pack my suitcase …” (“Ich packe meinen Koffer…”) we also offer workshops. At the beginning of the year 2018, we have two very special workshops on offer: “From Offenbach to Morocco“ (“Von Offenbach bis Marokko “) and “The Aladdin’s Shoe: A Journey to Leatherland“ (“Der Schuh des Aladin: Eine Reise ins Lederland”) which recreates Babouches, the comfortable leather slippers from Morocco. In the second workshop, a leather book cover will be made under expert guidance.
100 years of German Leather Museum are a long period and big cultural heritage to preserve and enable access to for a broad public which always looks to be entertained at this specific site. What does the future hold for the German Leather Museum?
We want to increasingly present thematic exhibitions with objects from our three collection areas – the Applied Arts, the Ethnology and the German shoe museum. This allows us to make many of the items currently in storage accessible again for visitors under different aspects.
But even the intensive examination of leather as a material in all its facets is important to us. We already started with the exhibition “Linking Leather – the diversity of leather“ (“Linking Leather – die Vielfalt des Leders”), which was an interactive installation that introduced the different types of leather and tanning methods. We are also concerned with a critical, comprehensive explanation of the material leather as it has been used worldwide for thousands of years.
More information about the German Leather Museum and its exhibitions can be found at: www.ledermuseum.de
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