Remember “Das Boot”, the harrowing film about a German submarine crew? Lothar-Günther Buchheim, author of the novel on which it was based, is one of those collectors who cannot say no. “ Any child and therefore any man who does not collect is not normal”, he says.
He lives on the shores of the pretty Bavarian lake, the Starnberger See, in a house that is a chaos of watercolours by Picasso, hundreds of sheets by the Brücke and Blaue Reiter artists, model theatres, fossils, anthropological material, paper and wooden parrots, dolls, marionettes, miniature hot air balloons—20,000 or so objects and works of art.
Mr Buchheim has been trying to involve the Bavarian State for years in a project to give the collection to his home town of Feldafing. When instead the third Pinakothek was announced for Munich in 1989, Mr Buchheim thought of offering the collection to Duisburg, Dresden and Düsseldorf. He then said he would sell it all at auction and finally threatened to bury it in the Nevada desert.
At last, in September 1995, after intervention by the Bavarian prime minister, Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian government decided to put up DM8 million (£3.2 million; $4.6 million) to convert Mr Buchheim’s house and the adjoining Villa Maffei into a museum of the collection, DM1 million a year will be made available for running expenses. Work should begin in the next twelve months and the museum is expected to open in three years, on the collector’s eightieth birthday.
Next year, there will be an exhibition of the collection in Munich’s Haus der Kunst with surrounding displays about cinema, literature and contemporary theatre.
If Mr Buchheim gets his way, the museum will provide a completely new kind of experience: he wants it to be a “place for the imagination” with the chaos in which he lives, the papers on the floor and things stacked on chairs, window sills and stairs, transferred intact into the museum.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘A museum of chaos to make men marvel'