The mansion was built in 1912 by Raymond von Fugger (1870–1949) who was a descendant of a side-line of the Augsburg Fuggers. It is situated on a hill overlooking the valley of the river Rot. When laying out the park, architect Balthasar von Hornstein-Grüningen (1873–1920) integrated the existing stock of ancient trees. A small chateau, called Fuggerschlösschen, was also built, made up of a clever stylistic mix of Baroque, Neo-classical and Art Nouveau elements.
Alexandra von Hornstein (1903–1932), who came from the neighbouring castle of Orsenhausen, purchased the entire estate in 1925. It was handed over completely emptied. Until her suicide, Alexandra von Hornstein lived in the Fuggerschlösschen which she shared with Feodora Christ, a friend from boarding school.
Donors and Collectors ¬
In 1933, Feodora Christ came into the inheritance of Alexandra von Hornstein’s fortune, which included the Fuggerschlösschen and all its fittings, as well as some other property. Feodora Christ married the musician and conductor Hermann Hoenes (1900–1978), and the couple lived on the estate for several decades, up to their respective deaths.
After 1945, almost unnoticed by the public, they turned the mansion into a quiet refuge of music and art, as well as a central meeting point of a large, wide-spread circle of friends. Hermann Hoenes, however, the sophisticated young conductor who had been predicted a great career, paid a dear price for his retreat into the quiet valley of the Rot: Forced by the Nazis, he sacrificed his ideal profession as a conductor.
In the late 1920s, Hermann Hoenes already had made himself a good name in the German world of music as a cellist who was a member of well-known orchestras and quartets. From 1932 until his dismission in 1935, he worked both as cellist and representative conductor of the Reichssymphonie-Orchester. Even in his dismission certificate, his profound qualification and great ability for conducting an orchestra successfully, skilfully and with a great deal of musical understanding was underlined. Broadcasts of his concerts drew many listeners, and any orchestra which had worked under Hoenes, if only briefly, expressed their heartfelt admiration for both his musical and his social ability.
Unknown to himself, he was forced to leave the Reichssymphonie-Orchester, which had been a direct order from the National Socialist party’s leadership in Munich, even though friends from the world of music gave him their support, and he had references from renowned German conductors.
Hoenes‘ dismission coincided with an intensification of the Nazi racial discriminational laws. Hoenes was defamed a “Jewish culture violator”, while terming himself an „alleged Jew”, but the Nuremberg racial laws, passed in 1936, did not absolutely apply to him. If so, his life would have been in imminent danger and a retreat to Villa Rot would not have been possible. There are no definite sources to prove it, but he may have had some Jewish ancestors.
Museum and Kunsthalle ¬
The Hoenes‘ art collection, the estate, park and all the property were made into one museum foundation – the Hoenes-Stiftung – by Feodora Hoenes. The Fuggerschlösschen became the Villa Rot, and on August 28th, 1992, the Museum Villa Rot first opened its doors to the public.
The collection of Asian art which today forms the core of the museum’s stock came into being by Hermann Hoenes in the 1930s, when the official, narrow approach to art only allowed for national art.
Today, the Hoenes‘ collection’s basic idea of understanding the commmon message of both one’s own, as well as foreign cultures, proves to be absolutely up-to-date, and the message of intercultural tolerance is forward-looking. The museum’s leitmotif, encounter of civilizations, originated from this approach.
Today the Museum Villa Rot is a contemporary exhibition house with an intercultural programmatic. International solo and collective exhibitions deal with the boundaries of art, culture and society.
In 2014 the Museum Villa Rot received a modern extension, which blends in perfectly with the park landscape, opens up new perspectives and greatly expandes the exhibition space. The realization of the new Kunsthalle has become possible through the earmarked donation of the artist Willi Siber. As a counterpoint to the intimate rooms of the historic building the Kunsthalle – designed by the architecture office Hinrichsmeier & Bertsch – offers with an additional exhibition area of around 150sqm space for expansive sculptures and installations.
In addition to the exhibitions, the Museum Villa Rot realizes an exclusive concert series. Named after the cellist, conductor and founder Herrmann Hoenes the chamber music hall of the museum offers the ideal setting for an intense and unique music experience with young, promising and internationally renowned performers and ensembles.