Motion Detector No. 6: Rudolf Wissell (1869 - 1962) and his collection on the “ancient craft”

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

To coincide with the Brandenburg thematic year "Handwerk zwischen gestern & übermorgen" (craft between yesterday and the day after tomorrow), we remind with some objects of the politician from the Weimar Republic and the craft researcher Rudolf Wissell.

Rudolf Wissell was one of the pioneers who concentrated on the social function of guild rules in the "ancient craft". He was born in Göttingen in 1869 and started an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer in 1883. As a journeyman, he not only became familiar with Socialist works, but also attended the meetings of the journeymen's brotherhood with open guild chest in Kiel. All this made him curious about the "ancient craft" and its relics.

Politically Wissell was a social democrat from the very beginning and an active unionist. In addition, he passionately collected relics of the "ancient craft" and studied a great deal of documentary material. As the war came to an end – Wissell was long relieved of his duties – his collection was largely destroyed by bombs. However, he started to build up a national collection again, with more than 500 objects, which was acquired by the Museum in 1966.

In Berlin Wissell is known mainly because of the longest bridge of the city, the Rudolf Wissell Bridge, which was completed in 1961.

The "Motion Detector" was introduced as a new form of presentation in 2014. Objects from our collection related to topical subjects are exhibited at regular intervals in a display cabinet in the foyer, right beside the entrance at Arnimallee 25. The aim is to create a link between historical objects and current debates, and to simultaneously present excerpts from our extensive collection.