On Lake Kummerow in the Mecklenburg Lake District stands the impressive manor house “Schloss Kummerow”. Here you can discover a unique photographic collection.
History of the castle
The history of Kummerow is quite varied. It was first mentioned in a document in 1222 and received its town charter in 1255.
The von Maltzahn family determined life in the region with interruptions. Sometimes they were landowners, sometimes the fief was taken from them or lost in the war. Kummerow Castle was one of several houses from which the noble family helped determine the lives of the people in Mecklenburg and Pomerania as feudal lords and officials.
Kummerow Castle was built by the von Maltzahn family in 1730 in the late Baroque style. The landscape park, planned by Lenné, was not completed until 100 years later.
The apparently rather lively and fateful family history led to the castle standing empty again and again in the meantime. After the First World War, extensive renovation and repair took place. Mortimer Freiherr von Maltzahn was able to breathe new life into the large estate and was even elected mayor. He adapted to the political conditions taking place at the time and it was not until the land reform in the GDR that the family had to relinquish the property.
After the Soviet army had used the castle as a quarantine camp for refugees and former forced labourers, the municipality now used the building as a consumer sales outlet with a restaurant, the mayor’s office, for a primary and secondary school and for a kindergarten. Later, the property was transferred to the GDR postal service. The landscape park was used as a sports field.
This use was advantageous for the building, so it did not stand unused and was preserved. In 1993, Kummerow Castle became private property. The plan was to open a hotel there. Unfortunately, nothing came of the plans and the house fell visibly into disrepair.
In 2011, Thomas Kunert and his family bought the property. After renovation, the house is now an art gallery and open to visitors.
Tour in and around Kummerow Castle
I first approached the castle from the lake side.
One looks across a large meadow to the castle and already here I realised that the view from the castle to the lake must be dreamlike. Later it turned out that I was right. The view of the lake is magnificent. It almost seems as if the lake is huge and the horizon almost merges into the lake. A wall of rain moved in over the lake during the course of my visit, and at first it rained there too. A great sight!
However, the entrance to Kummerow Castle is on the other side of the house. Those who walk across the spacious driveway to the castle have a beautiful view of the two-storey residential building. The elongated main building is plastered and divided by a three-storey portal gable. Here one also discovers the coat of arms of the Maltzahn family. The mansard hipped roof of the castle is also striking. Here, 30,000 hand-painted plain tails and 20 original baroque dormers were used during the renovation.
In addition to the main house, there are also former farm buildings on the property. One of them is now used as a hotel.
I can really recommend a walk through the photography collection. It was not only the photographs and their stories behind them that excited me. The concept of the interior design and the composition of the past with the new use are also very successful.
In some rooms you discover old wall paintings such as “I am the sword! I am the flame! I have illuminated you in the darkness, and when the battle began, I fought in front, in the first row” or “Thinking is the first civic duty”. Traces that remind us of the past and have fortunately been preserved as a testimony of time.
In addition, doors and wall panelling have been preserved as far as possible. I was particularly drawn to the beautiful floorboards and the staircase. The baroque staircase is magnificent and when I stood at the foot of the steps and looked up, I felt like I was in the riads in Morocco.
The photography collection at Kummerow Castle opened in 2016. More than 2000 photos from Kunert’s private collection form the basis for permanent and temporary exhibitions. The collection mainly contains pictures from the period after the Second World War and many photos from the time of the GDR. If you look closely, you will also find photographs by well-known photographers of the GDR.
More recent works can also be found in the exhibition. There are video rooms, for example, where films and photos are presented.
I particularly like the fact that the exhibits are not presented in “sterile” exhibition rooms but in rooms with visible history. Even though, as an architecture lover, I found myself always perceiving the room as a whole first and only then looking at the pictures, I still had the feeling that everything was coherent and fitting.
Unfortunately, I was in the exhibition for far too short a time. It was interesting and many of the pictures inspired me. There is so much to discover that you really should take some time.
Disclosure: The visit to Kummerow Castle took place during a press trip to the Midsummer Remise. The article was written independently of the visit.