Profile and history of BURG

Visionary ideas and design since 1915

Das Kornhaus auf dem Kunstcampus. Foto: Adrian Parvulescu

Founded in 1915, Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle offers a distinctive profile has a distinctive profile in the German university landscape. Featuring two departments, Art and Design, BURG has offered excellent conditions for education and study since 1915. With over 1,000 students, it is one of the largest universities of art and design in Germany. Visionary ideas and design are the focus of its 20-plus disciplines of study, alongside the development of practical professional skills. The university’s studio and workshop facilities are thoroughly equipped for learning and BURG is part of an active network of research institutes, institutions, and companies. 
During the more than 100 years of its existence, BURG has developed in to a university of art and design that explores the interplay between practice and research. Students learn to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner from the very beginning as they navigate their way through the broad foundation programme. BURG’s two departments use this approach to combine continuity and consistent orientation to changing requirements.
Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle confers bachelor’s, master’s, and teaching degrees, as well as the traditional Diplom. Students can also complete a “Meister-schüler” (Master Class) course at BURG. The BURG received the right to confer doctorates. A faculty consisting of more than 50 professors and 60 academic staff offer young people with artistic talent a broad range of classes in art and theory. The university of art and design maintains partnerships with institutions in 20 European countries and a number of universities outside Europe. BURG is a member of the global Cumulus association of art universities and is also part of ELIA, the association of European art universities.


BURG has several workshops and studios with a wide range of equipment and expert staff. They cover the spectrum from the woodworking, porcelain and photography workshop to weaving and printing studios, the rapid prototyping lab tot he BurgLabs and a media centre. Knowledge of materials and technology is imparted, among other things, through a well-founded collection of materials.
Burg Galerie im Volkspark, BURG’s own gallery space, showcases art and design on an area of 350 square metres. The university gallery exhibits student works and those of artists who teach or have taught at the university.
With a stock of around 100,000 media, the art academy's library has the most important specialized academic library on art as well as 20th- and 21st-century design in central Germany and is located in a building on the Design Campus that was constructed in 2015 and has since won several awards. The library also includes the extensive material collection with over 900 material samples.
Founded in 2010, the Designhaus Halle connects design and business, art and the market, teaching and starting a career, and accompanies students' transition between education and professional life. As a start-up center, it offers offices at favorable conditions and provides a runway for spin-offs from the university and start-ups from the creative industries. Advice and support in business and legal matters are offered, as well as the opportunity to use the university's workshops and to organize themselves in a network.
The University press of the BURG located on the design campus can fill orders for large-format materials using modern offset and digital processes. It is used for research and teaching projects and prints materials for the university’s public relations and administrative programmes. The university publishing house also has many publications printed there, including the yearbook of the BURG.
The textile studio integrated into Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle in 2014 supports interdisciplinary teaching and research in weaving, embroidery, sewing and dyeing. It also houses the screen-printing and weaving studio, which includes jacquard looms. In addition to supporting the comprehensive educational opportunities at BURG, textile studio staff also completes commercial orders for museum-quality textile restoration, for example.
Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle has its own daycare centre with room for 50 children ages 0 to six. Located in the Volkspark Halle, BurgKita follows a pedagogical concept developed in the university’s programme for play and learning design. The university and VHS Bildungswerk operate the creative kindergarten jointly.


The arrival of the architect Paul Thiersch (1915-1928) as director of the former School of Arts and Crafts on July 1, 1915 is considered to be the birth of today's BURG. In the course of this, the former crafts school of the city of Halle was reformed into a modern school of arts and crafts with training and production workshops and specialized artistic classes in which training was provided without fixed curricula. Thiersch was guided by the goals of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhütten ideal. 
With the products of its workshops and specialist student collaboration on major decorating commissions, BURG became one of Germany’s most influential art schools.
When the national socialists came into power, the art school fell on hard times: teachers were made redundant and classes closed. But the centre for education in the crafts remained open and was re-organised after 1945.
Christened ‘University for Industrial Design Halle – Burg Giebichenstein’ in 1958, BURG received a status equal to that of a university. In the following decades, the university gained a reputation for being the most influential university of design in the GDR alongside the university of the arts in Berlin-Weißensee. In 1972, the restrictions on education in the fields of graphic design, painting, and sculpture at BURG were lifted, lifting the quality of the art education programme there.
After German reunification, the university was re-structured and its educational programme revised. Initially in the Design department and later in the Art department, media-orientated courses were set up. And the art (teaching degree) and art education courses have been offered since then. BURG celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 with an extensive programme entitled BURG 100 featuring numerous exhibitions, events, and publications.