The Kunsthalle's first director:
Alfred Lichtwark

Even a hundred years ago, Alfred Lichtwark, the Kunsthalle director and pioneer of German art education, had a fascination and enthusiasm for the fresh perspective of laymen. Lichtwark would exhibit amateur photos, encourage housewives to participate in the Kunsthalle yearbook's design, or invite a girl from a "Higher Private School for Girls" to the museum on a Sunday to observe the way they would look at contemporary art from the perspective and life experience of a fourteen-year-old. The resulting "Exercises in the Contemplation of Artworks", first printed in 1898, has remained an interesting read to this day. The director took these spontaneous and uninhibited youths just as seriously he did the mayors, senators and influential "moneybags" of the Hanseatic city, many of whom reviled the first Impressionist acquisitions as "spinach with scrambled eggs". Such was the case with Monet's fruit still life, which was purchased in 1896.

The Painting School at the Hamburger Kunsthalle

In 1968, a number of young art students, as the then director Alfred Hentzen wrote, "took the initiative and founded the first children's painting classes". This developed into an art school. When the Art History seminar moved out of the Kunsthalle, studio spaces were installed there. Meanwhile the number of courses and interested participants has grown so much that even the expansion of the museum's pedagogical facilities barely suffices any more. This is especially true since the program now includes not only the classic children's courses – for children between the ages of 5 and 14, for 1.5 hours over 12 weeks –; it has now been enriched with classes for teenagers, families and adults with a wide range of workshops, printing and language courses, as well as discussions and field trips pertaining to art appreciation. The school holiday program for 10 weeks every year forms an important part of the school's activities, and the vast majority of the 3,000 tours booked every year combine guided art viewing with a hands-on activity.

In 1998 Thomas Sello, then head of the Museum Education department, founded the "Friends of the School of Painting at the Hamburger Kunsthalle" association (Förderverein Malschule in der Kunsthalle e.V.). The now well over 2,000 members financially and actively support the Kunsthalle's educational program.

More on the Friends of the Painting School association (Förderverein Malschule) at the Hamburger Kunsthalle e.V. Malschule in der Hamburger Kunsthalle e.V.