Hugo Kükelhaus Society e.V. Soest

Since the society’s founding in 1993, the active examination of the ideas and the archive of works of Hugo Kükelhaus has been furthered with workshops, exhibitions and events in the form of symposia. In this connection, the matter of his work’s topicality is given priority time and again. This way, it is intended to prevent that the central statements become fixed in dogmas. The adoption of Kükelhaus’ thoughts in their social and temporal context is to be documented at the same time.

The society offers interested groups – but also individuals – to experience the variety of Kükelhaus’ creative, intellectual and practical activity during a visit there. The installation of objects and appliances from the Erfahrungsfeld [field of sensory experience] in the surroundings of his residence and place of work has begun and opens the opportunity of directly combining the (further) thinking about Hugo Kükelhaus with the sensory experience and thus of gaining an integral view of the work.

To enable and ensure the work in perpetuity, the Hugo Kükelhaus society aims at the establishment of a foundation which hedges the further work financially.

Board of Directors

Jürgen Münch chairman
Dirk Elbert vice-chairman
Bettina Kramer treasurer
Christel Albers secretary
Hannes Knickenberg additional member

Advisory Board Members

Prof. Dr. Markus Dederich Chair of Curative Education, University of Cologne

Christiane Mackensen member of the culture committee of Soest

Maria-Luise Pepinghege member of the culture committee of Soest

Prof. em. Dr. Elmar Schenkel Institute for English Studies University of Leipzig

Tobias Westhoff City archive Soest

Dr. Norbert Wex Head of Department Culture City of Soest

Klaus Wehmeyer Retired town planning officer


Swetlana Strothkamp Chairperson of the culture committee of Soest

Barbara Vogel-Kükelhaus Daughter of Hugo Kükelhaus

Excerpt from the speech of Ms. Dr. Joeressen, Kükelhaus research department, at the foundation meeting of the Hugo Kükelhaus Society on March 20th 1993:

“When today, four days before the 93rd anniversary of Hugo Kükelhaus’ birth, the Hugo Kükelhaus Society will be founded, this also means the beginning of a new phase for the support of estate and unpublished works, which has been settled in this house since 1988. This is of course no break; you can see that in the staff continuity as well as in the fact, that the town of Soest as the estate owner had invited you today.
A short retrospective view and the attempt of an outlook may help in understanding with which intention the Hugo Kükelhaus Society is being founded.

The work of the past years, the order of the estate, the gathering of the papers, the contacts with many old and newly gained friends and interested people, the plans for the Kükelhaus Path in Soest, which are based on the ideas of Kükelhaus, and much more – these are things on which you can build something.
From the beginning, the response to the opening of an estate place was great. A reason for this is the fact that the study of the work and the ideas of Kükelhaus have extended to such an extent since his death as he had hoped for at best. This response and effect is not one-dimensional, but corresponds in its diversity to the range of Kükelhaus’ creative work, which is relevant on a mental and a practical level.
Therefore there is a great deal of interest in his papers, published and unpublished, his artistic and creative works, his philosophy and ideas with which his house is connected, that conveys so much of his way of living and thinking. And there is a great response to his pedagogy of senses. While today one can expect approval when talking about his basic approach, even if the approval is superficial sometimes, during his lifetime the awareness of needing a fundamental reorientation was only beginning to develop: the assumption that humankind needs help in order to recover a relationship with elementary nature and the life of the senses so that humans may think and act out of the fullness of their being.
The previous work in Soest had a rather small personal basis. With the foundation of the Hugo Kükelhaus Society, the coming work shall now be put on a wider personal basis, which especially implies that the potential of new ideas, approaches and perspectives shall be expanded, inspired by the thoughts and suggestions of Kükelhaus. A creative involvement with the rich fund of ideas and works, a process, in which people cooperate to create  new things and projects, for themselves and for others - this can be the assignment of such a society in the spirit of Kükelhaus.
The work of Kükelhaus and what he has left behind should not just be administered and protected in archives. Kükelhaus did not want people to gaze at him or his ideas, but that one uses them in a creative spirit.  Just as our senses really perceive nothing when they hold and nail the object down, so would this attitude be unsuitable in this case. A longer quotation on this issue by Kükelhaus himself may suffice to make the point: “Observe the movements of the blind person’s fingers while they fly across the keys of the Braille: The movements are circling, wandering and radially collecting ones. One should try it for oneself  with closed eyes. If you want to understand a phenomenon you cannot jump from dot to dot but you have to approach it by making circling, radial and spiral movements. How different the world and the humans in it would be if they thought in such a multilayered  way and if they were, so to speak, thought by the object and its laws, just like the fingers feel.” (Organ und Bewußtsein, Cologne 1977, p. 25)
I also would like to consult another image or rather analogy often used by Kükelhaus. The work, conducted the way I think it should be by the society, would be a kind of tightrope walk, a balancing act: Between the poles of an independent, open and relaxed way of dealing  with Kükelhaus’ ideas on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the exact reading and effort to understand that which he has already thought and worked on in advance and paved the way for.
And this whole process can only succeed with a perspective into the distance so that one does not trip over one’s own  feet and falls.
I wish the Hugo Kükelhaus Society all the best for that balancing act."

Graphics by Hugo Kükelhaus: Dreamer balancing on a railroad track

The Kükelhaus Society offers people who focus on  the life and work of Hugo Kükelhaus – whether in academic papers, for example diploma theses, dissertations, publications or in artistic approaches – the possibility for a longer study visit in Soest. 

Aside from these periods, there is the opportunity of study visits in this house in Paulistrasse provided for artists receiving Wilhelm Morgner stipends. 

For the allocation of the four to eight-week study period to researchers, teachers, and students from the field of art and culture there is cooperation with the Society and the donation Kulturparlament Soest. It also belongs to the institution as a supporter with the directorate of the culture supporting association in Soest which also the Hugo Kükelhaus Society belongs to.

We are delighted to offer this kind of opportunity, especially to those who want to withdraw from their usual occupations and involvements to fully concentrate on their work. 
This place appears to be virtually ideal for such work:the idyllic park around the medieval St. Pauli church very close to the city archive with the extensive Hugo Kükelhaus collection.

Additional links:

You can get an impression of the house at

Please address applications to our office

Kulturparlament Soest

Photo: study house

Studien- und Stipendienhaus Paulistr.

After his death, the heirs of Hugo Kükelhaus donated the extensive estate which had been left in the artist’s former working rooms to the city of Soest. It contains the library, the literary, philosophical and artistic inheritance, the correspondence and also several personal documents and anthologies.

The estate stock was reviewed from 1988 to 1993 by a researcher in the Soest city archive. Due to its accessible sources, Soest is an important centre for the study of the  life and works of Hugo Kükelhaus.
Since 1993 the Hugo Kükelhaus Society has been the responsible institution of the estate management. It took over the responsibilities agreed by contract from the city of Soest in close cooperation with the city archive and the heirs of Hugo Kükelhaus.


Literary and philosophical oeuvre: manuscripts of published and unpublished books and articles (ca. 100 unpublished manuscripts including several extensive book manuscripts) along with previous works, manuscripts of lectures, audio transmissions, poems etc.

Creative oeuvre: drawings, watercolors, prints; drafts of comic strips and work booklets; drafts and design sketches relating to the Erfahrungsfeld [field of sensory experience] as well as to the creative and interior architectural works, together with correspondence and the like

Collection of materials: as part of the exhibitions of the Erfahrungsfeld, seminars and miscellaneous projects by or in cooperation with Kükelhaus

Documents and materials: on his life and work, e.g. autobiographical records, diary, reviews and newspaper articles, photographs, sound and film documents

Correspondence: collection of letters from ca. 350 people and institutions, including extensive correspondence together with autographs of famous contemporaries (e.g. Eduard Spranger, Peter Suhrkamp, Ernst Meister, Hans Schwippert, Josef Pieper, Robert Jungk, Otto Bartning, Fritz Dietloff von der Schulenburg, Axel von dem Bussche, Ewald Mataré, Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, Martin Wagenschein, Hartmut von Hentig); and beyond that numerous individual letters;

Letters: by Kükelhaus himself (photocopies or carbon copies)

Collections: manuscripts and publications (without books) of friends and other people; creative works of others; photographs, compilation of newspapers and journal excerpts;

Partial bequest of his father and both his brothers, Heinz Kükelhaus and Hermann Kükelhaus, who were authors as well.

Supplemented bequest:  primarily letters from Hugo Kükelhaus

Library: (ca. 3000 titles) and collection of journals

Furniture: supplement and maintenance of bequest

The so-called bequest supplement first of all applies to those letters sent by Kükelhaus that due to their significance are asked back from major correspondence partners. But it also applies to sketches that stayed with the executing workshop, creative works or original manuscripts he gave away as a present or the like.
So far numerous people and institutions have provided the Kükelhaus-Archive with letters and other partly extensive documents. Even furniture has already been placed at their disposal (e. g. from the company library of Schmöle in Menden that had been furnished by Kükelhaus).
The protection of Kükelhaus’ creations also includes assistance with preventing his creative works from destruction elsewhere. This is done by asking the owners for maintenance and preservation of the things in question (e. g. as has happened already in the case of the Church of the Redeemer in Essen, the Borromaeum Münster and the town hall of Vreden). These efforts to preserve the bequest have to be intensified still. Furthermore, a photographic documentation of the scattered creative works is needed.

Photo: The Kükelhaus Archive

2 Purpose and functions

1. The Hugo Kükelhaus Society has the target of keeping the work and ideas of Hugo Kükelhaus alive and to support their further development. For that purpose the establishment of the “Hugo Kükelhaus Society” is intended in Soest.

2. Further functions and aims are maintaining the estate of Hugo Kükelhaus according to academic criteria;

Supplying and looking after the estate; establishing a museum in Hugo Kükelhaus' former workspaces based on the criterion of greatest possible authenticity; distributing and deepening of the knowledge about Hugo Kükelhaus’ oeuvre and person, inter alia by publications (new editions, publications from the estate, research on Hugo Kükelhaus), exhibitions, lectures, seminars etc.;

Studying, developing and implementing Kükelhaus' thinking in primary, secondary and continuing education;

Public relations work for the development association's interests and aims; setting up a contact and information network to connect trans-regional efforts and activities for the purpose of Kükelhaus' ideas and methods.

4 Membership

1. Any natural or legal person may become a member of the society, if the application is in writing, and the committee approves it. The accession obligates to pay the annual membership dues.

The Hugo Kükelhaus Society appreciates every support of their work and therefore invites interested people to become a member. We want to get new proposals, impulses and ideas for further work and ensure the work with the help of a wider financial basis. Donations are also always welcome.

Every natural and legal person, who is interested in the aims and duties of the Hugo Kükelhaus Society, may become a member.

Membership fees currently amount to:
single members: € 30
students: € 15
corporate members: € 125

Please contact our office for further information.

Furthermore you can obtain our application form as PDF file.

The publications of the Hugo Kükelhaus Gesellschaft e.V. can be found in the  Section "literature and more".