Merzbarn – Cumbria, England - Atlas Obscura
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Cumbria, England

Merzbarn

The sculptural remains of the last home of a legendary Dada artist. 

Out in the lush hills of the Lake District are the remains of the last artistic creation of a Dadaist legend.

Kurt Schwitters was a German-born artist who, having been labeled a degenerate, fled the Nazis in 1937 and ended up in England. He’d left behind his Merzbau, originally called the Cathedral of Erotic Misery, in his hometown of Hanover. The eight room evolving installation in his home was destroyed by Allied bombing. The avant garde artist continued to make his “merz” structures, the prefix he attached to much of his collage-based art, the rest of his life.

Although the Merzbarn in England was never completed, he did finish a stunning wall installation. This was removed for preservation in the 1960s by artist Richard Hamilton, and it’s been kept to this day by the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle. The stone Merzbarn itself is managed by the Littoral Arts Trust, although unfortunately has had much of its funding recently cut. While there are contemporary artists actively interested in the preservation of the site, and artists like Elizabeth Shorrock and Bruce Ingram have created installations on site, its future remains uncertain. 

The Merzbarn is only open to the public during specified times of the year and for special events. 

Contributed by
Allison Allison
Edited by