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Berlin's Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) opened in 1868 with donations from the World Fair. Its original name was "Deutsches-Gewerbe-Museum zu Berlin". The founders aimed to develop the taste of artisans, industrial designers and the general public by means of the exhibition and an accompanying educational programme.
Within a few decades the museum developed into one of the most important collections of applied art in Europe. The basis was formed by the purchase of the Councillors' Silver from Lüneburg (1874) and the acquisition of almost 7,000 items from the Royal Art Collection (1875). In 1879 the collection received its present name: the Kunstgewerbemuseum.
In 1881 the museum acquired its own premises in the Martin Gropius Building which provided space for numerous special collections of goldsmithery, ceramics, glassware and textiles. They were arranged to give a chronological panorama of the history of interior design from the late Middle Ages to contemporary times.
In 1921 the museum moved to a section of Berlin's City Palace where its possessions were united with those of the former royal household under the new name of "Palace Museum". After the Second World War the buildings lay in ruins and the collections were divided.
The items in the east of the city found their permanent home at Schloss Köpenick (Köpenick Palace) in 1963, while those in the west of the city were temporarily accommodated in Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace). In 1985 they were moved to the newly built museum at the Kulturforum. Since the reunification of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) the two sections of the Museum of Decorative Arts have acted in close co-operation and made mutual exchanges to improve the quality of each collection.
In recent years the collection got a new main focus due to the acquisition of the two collections of costumes "Kamer/Ruf" (fashion and accessoires from the 18th to 20th century) and "Uli Richter".