Exemplary Beauty

Period of time
13.10.23 – 28.4.24
Teaser text

Ornament (from the Latin ornare, meaning decorate, adorn, arrange, equip) dust collector and wasted material or an expression of artistic refinement and creative joy? The decision is ultimately yours! In any case, ornament is closely linked to the history of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, and the institution owes its very origins at least in part to such embellishments. In the second half of the nineteenth century, ornamental patterns and templates featured prominently in the so-called Vorbildersammlung (teaching collection), which had been created by founding director Justus Brinckmann to instruct students, designers and the public in matters of taste and aesthetics. Heated debates subsequently arose regarding the purpose and necessity of ornament discussions that have continued with varying degrees of intensity up to the present day. The exhibition presents some 80 objects from the collection and navigates between changing forms, shifting meanings and the diverse connotations and functions of ornament.



Ornament Explorer

Discovering the collection with AI

The MK&G's database lists over 12,000 objects with the keyword "ornament" – one of the most frequently used terms. But only a fraction of the objects can be seen in the museum. With the new Ornament Explorer, visitors can click through the entire archive via a tablet in the exhibition and make completely new connections between the digitised objects. On the horizontal level, the works are sorted by similarity with the help of artificial intelligence. On the vertical level, they are displayed based on their associated information (metadata), for example in the order of their date of origin. The prototype of the Ornament Explorer was developed by Michal Čudrnák (* 1981), Philo van Kemenade (* 1988), Igor Rjabinin  (* 1986) within the NEO Lab as part of the NEO Collections project.