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Welcome to the World of Porcelain

Anyone travelling through the Fichtelgebirge on the A93 motorway quickly realises that porcelain plays a very special role here. Several road signs point to the "Porcelain Region", the "Porcelain Town" or "Nature and Porcelain". In fact, the white gold is deeply rooted around the area. There is hardly a family that does not have a connection to the porcelain industry in its history, hardly a place in which there were no businesses that deal with porcelain in some way.

You can also get some insight into the fascinating world of porcelain production at our Infopoint of the Museums & Castles in Bavaria. Visit us at the Old Court in Munich!

Picture of a staircase: there is a display case filled with porcelain in the background.
Staircase at the Porzellanikon Hohenberg © Porzellanikon, Foto: Manfred Jahreiß

Even though many manufacturers are no longer producing today, the porcelain industry still plays an important role in the region's economy. It is precisely because more and more manufacturers are disappearing from the market due to structural change that the preservation of tradition in the region is so important. The Porzellanikon - State Museum of Porcelain is the focal point and beacon for preserving, collecting and communicating this tradition. At two historical locations - a former manufacturer's villa in Hohenberg and a former porcelain factory in Selb - concentrated knowledge, old technology and cultural history are collected, preserved and exhibited in authentic locations.

Selb - Factory and Technology

It takes countless steps before a cup, a plate or a teapot makes it into a display case or onto your table at home. Visitors at the Porzellanikon Selb (State Museum for Porcelain Selb) experience this - quite literally - rocky path from the inconspicuous lump of stone to the fine crockery at first hand. The historic factory is a prime example of the highly industrialised division of labour. Step by step, the raw materials are first turned into raw porcelain paste in the "mass mill", from which the respective porcelain piece is then created in the "white production" by turning or moulding. Finally, the colourful decoration is applied to the porcelain in the process of "colour production".  A separate house in the museum is dedicated to each of these production steps.

Aerial view of a big white factory building
Aerial view of the Porzellanikon Selb © Porzellanikon; Foto: jahreiss. kommunikation foto film, Hohenberg a. d. Eger

Turning Wild Rocks Into Porcelain

The highlights of the “Massemühle” are its heavy machinery and the impressive rooms. Two steam engines weighing several tonnes can be admired here, one of which even comes to life every hour during a demonstration and, together with the large drum mills, gives visitors an impression of the deafening soundscape in which the porcelain miners carried out their work. Heavy wheels and transmission belts distributed the power to a multitude of machines that gradually turned the coarse lumps of quartz and feldspar into fine flour. Finally, the magic ingredient, kaolin, was added to the mixture.

Picture of a big steam engine
Steam engine at the Porzellanikon Selb © Porzellanikon; Foto: Andreas Gießler

Experience Porcelain Production Live

In whiteware production, the fine crockery was made by turning or moulding the raw mass. Visitors can experience both techniques live. How is a cup made from a template and mould? How do you hollow out ceramics and why is plaster so important in porcelain production? Our experts are happy to answer all of your questions and talk about their decades of professional experience in the porcelain industry. A final highlight are the large kilns, where porcelain used to be fired for many hours at a blazing heat of over 1400 degrees celsius, which have been preserved in their original state and extend over several floors,, .

A man demonstrates the process of turning a porcelain mug.
Live demonstration at the Porzellanikon Selb © Porzellanikon

Porcelain Life - The Person behind the Craft

But it is not only the technical processes of porcelain production that are impressively conveyed in Selb. In the "Porcelain Life" section, people take centre stage. What was everyday working life like in the factory? How did the porcelain workers live and work and how did they spend their limited free time? How well could they live on the wages they were paid and what health hazards lurked in the factory? The interactive exhibition conveys a vivid picture of the everyday life of the porcelain workers. Visitors experience the cramped living quarters and the hard labour first-hand and are amazed by anecdotes from everyday working life. Drinking beer while you work? That was commonplace back then!

A display case with four beer mugs stands in the middle of an exhibition hall that is illuminated by red lights.
A look at the exhibition  “Porzellinerleben” © Porzellanikon; Foto: Andreas Gießler

Rosenthal - A Myth

Founded in the 1860s by Jakob Zeidler, the factory was taken over by Rosenthal in 1917 and operated until its closure in the 1960s. This deep connection with the Rosenthal brand is expressed in the exhibition "Rosenthal - A Myth". Here, visitors are immersed in the company history shaped by Philipp Rosenthal and Philipp Rosenthal junior. They experience how the strong and very different personalities of father and son determined and guided the development of the company and its products.

Fine porcelain is presented on black tables in an exhibtion hall.
A look at the exhibition “Rosenthal” © Porzellanikon

Time Travel through 300 Years of Cultural History

If Selb is the industrial engine room of the Porzellanikon (State Museum for Porcelain ), then Hohenberg is its treasure chamber. In the authentic rooms of the old Hutschenreuther manufacturer's villa, you'll find a wide array of fine porcelain. The highlights of the 300-year cultural history of porcelain are arranged according to epochs and themes. From the difficult beginnings of porcelain production at the court of Augustus the Strong to the designer and mass-produced items of the post-war period up to 1989, everything of distinction is represented here. It is impressive to see which trends characterised porcelain design in the respective decades and how simplicity and playfulness alternated. Travelling through the centuries is an impressive experience. Thanks to its idyllic location in the middle of nature, Porzellanikon Hohenberg (State Museum for Porcelain Hohenberg) is perfect for a relaxing excursion into the world of porcelain.

Aerial view of a big white building amidst trees
Aerial view of the Porzellanikon Hohenberg © Porzellanikon; Foto: jahreiss. kommunikation foto film, Hohenberg a. d. Eger

Chess and Porcelain - The World on 64 Squares (external link, opens in a new window)

A special exhibition that'll make you want to brush the dust off of your old chessboard at home!

Stay up to Date @porzellanikon (external link, opens in a new window)

Information on current events and exciting insights into porcelain production.

Porzellanikon Selb (State Museum for Porcelain Selb)

The Porzellanikon Selb (State Museum for Porcelain Selb) makes it possible to understand and experience the effort involved in the production of porcelain, from the raw materials to the finished decorated piece.

Porzellanikon Hohenberg (State Museum for Porcelain Hohenberg)

Over 300 years of tradition and at the same time highly topical: the fascinating facets of porcelain are presented with a great deal of knowledge and passion at the two Porzellanikon locations.

A guest blog by the Porzellanikon