A family house: this sober description in the local land register hardly does justice to a royal palace containing 269 rooms and covering 8,100 square metres of living and working space, surrounded by a 28 hectare park in a picturesque setting above Lake Baldeney. The Villa Hügel was once the home of the Krupp family, a Ruhrgebiet dynasty whose members where instrumentally involved in the high and low points of modern German history: as globally renowned captains of industry, armaments manufacturers for the Nazi war machine and, most recently, munificent patrons of cultural activities. Given this background the so-called “Family house” is a living symbol of industrial power and entrepreneurial responsibility. The size and comfort of the villa complex which was completed in 1873 bear witness to a wealthy bourgeois style of life. Indeed a list of the villa’s guests includes the most powerful people in the world. The technical fittings – air-conditioning, water supplies and fire prevention equipment – were way ahead of their time. Now the villa houses a permanent exhibition on the history of the Krupp family and the firm. The richly illustrated review deals with the workers and white-collar employees of the Krupp steel empire, its business policies, social institutions and housing settlements, some of which still shape the urban landscape of the city of Essen. Today the villa is famous for top-class art which take place at regular intervals and attract international recognition. Many visitors combine a visit to the exhibition with a stroll in the large grounds of the surrounding park. The man who built the Villa Hügel was Alfred Krupp, who had a huge say in the final shape of the building. This was particularly the case in the mixture of a private family home and a representative business headquarters. The villa was the family home for four generations from 1873 to 1945. After that it was confiscated by the Allies and only returned in 1952. After that, in accordance with the will of its original owner, it was transformed into a cultural centre for the Ruhrgebiet. The first artistic exhibitions presented here completely fulfilled this ambitious aim and the tradition has continued unbroken since 1984 when it was taken over by the cultural foundation known as the Kulturstiftung Ruhr. The villa is now owned by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung.
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