Since its opening in 1877, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MK&G) has become renowned as one of Europe’s most important museums for art and design. Covering 4,000 years of history, its collection of 500,000 objects spans the realms of graphic design, poster art, photography, ceramics, design, fashion and musical instruments. It is perhaps best known for its Art Nouveau rooms, unique expressionist dance masks and pop art-inspired orange and red canteen designed by Verner Panton. Nearly five months in the making, a striking new renovation of the museum’s foyer by local studio Besau Marguerre makes a first impression befitting an institution of its stature.

Foyer at MG&K Museum in Hamburg

Besau Marguerre’s redesign sought to establish clear routing and wayfinding. After observing visitor flows, the firm reorganized the space: the reception desks were logically realigned along the axis leading from the entrance, with cloakrooms and vibrant yellow lockers tucked neatly behind.

Room with blue desk and yellow lockers

The designers used a vibrant primary colour palette of brilliant blue, mustard yellow and terracotta red — a contemporary interpretation of the hues of the vestibule’s coffered ceiling — as a unifying force that also helps visitors rapidly orient themselves within the space. At the entrance, rich cobalt reception desks and matching columns welcome visitors inside, while a gradation of wall colours ranging from pale pink to dark terracotta creates an intuitive path through the side rooms.

Foyer at MG&K Museum in Hamburg

This modern palette stands in pleasing contrast with the building’s historical elements, namely the arched doorways and original columns that have been left intact. The reception desks, furniture and curtain rails recall this curved form throughout the design scheme, creating a cohesive space.

Foyer at MG&K Museum in Hamburg featuring chandelier made of ocean plastic

At the centre of the foyer, Stuart Haygarth’s “Tide 200” chandelier, a commissioned work made from found beach plastic, serves as a landmark meeting place. To the left of the entrance, a lounge with comfortable soft seating in vivid blue (some of which was made bespoke for the museum) offers a welcoming area for visitors to linger and relax. Warm materials, such as wood, wool and hand-tufted carpets foster a cozy atmosphere, while curtains, ceiling and wall panels improve the acoustics. This space will serve as a gallery in its own right, displaying works by the Fund for Young Design residency program on a rotating basis.

Lounge area with blue sofas, terracotta walls, and mustard yellow curtains

A media lounge to the right of the entrance — which can host school groups or events — boasts a long table offering literature on the themes of ongoing exhibitions. Posters of the museum’s diverse programs echo the fun atmosphere established by the interior’s design, while uniform ceiling lighting and accent spotlights further add to the ambience.

Media lounge with blue table and stools, terracotta walls and mustard yellow curtains

The renovation not only enhanced the visitor experience but also added security and safety features, along with accessibility upgrades such as a barrier-free tactile guidance system installed on the ground floor and enlarged and modernized restrooms.

Lounge area with blue sofas, terracotta walls, and mustard yellow curtains

“Studio Besau Marguerre has succeeded in significantly improving service quality for our guests while creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that makes for an agreeable experience upon arrival at the museum. With our inviting foyer we are opening up the museum even more to the urban space – a key concern for me,” says the museum’s director, Tulga Beyerle.

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