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The Schocken department store

The museum building, which is now listed as a historic monument, was designed by the famous architect Erich Mendelsohn and opened as the Schocken department store on 15 May 1930. After Stuttgart and Nuremberg, this was Mendelsohn’s third department store for Simon and Salman Schocken. The Schocken company, which was based in Zwickau, ran one of the most successful department store chains in Germany until it was expropriated by the Nazis at the end of 1938.

Until 1945 the store operated as “Merkur Verkaufsstätte”, was later renamed HOWA and Centrum Warenhaus before finally, from 1990 until 2001, being part of the Kaufhof department store chain. Thus, the building can look back on a 71-year history as a department store.



Horizontal rows of windows which alternate with the exterior cladding and which appear light at night and dark during the day, a ground plan that resembles a slice of cake, a steel skeleton structure with a curtain wall façade – these are the most distinctive features of Erich Mendelsohn’s design. Following the thorough-going renovation of the building between 2010 and 2014, this acclaimed “icon of Modernism” has been restored to its former glory. The façade was restored in accordance with conservation criteria, the interior walls leave the original ground plan visible, and the different floors of the main archaeological exhibition are connected by three ceiling openings.

Bay exhibitions

On each of the three levels, the smac has a seperate exhibition area devoted to this remarkable museum building and its biography. These exhibitions focus on the architect Erich Mendelsohn, the Schocken department store company, and its co-founder Salman Schoken.
Read more about the bay exhibitions

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