New Opening Hours


Dear visitors,

Starting August 2023, the Villa Merkel has new opening hours:


Tuesdays, Wednesdays   11am - 6pm

Thursdays, Fridays           12am - 8pm

Saturdays, Sundays          11am - 6pm


Our outdoor catering in cooperation with fuenfbisneun opens on:


Thursdays, Fridays           4pm - 10pm

Saturdays, Sundays          2pm - 10pm


We are looking forward to your visit!

August 6th – October 22nd 2023


Surface Treatments
150 Jahre Zeit


Ann-Kathrin Müller, Julia Schäfer and Judith Engel


Opening: August 5th 2023, at 5pm

150 Years of Villa Merkel: What are we celebrating? The site-specific exhibition project Surface Treatments - 150 Jahre Zeit digs deep beneath the surface of history and artistically interrogates the building's anniversary. The artists Ann-Kathrin Müller, Julia Schäfer, and Judith Engel metaphorically remove layer after layer of the former industrialist's villa and critically expose its plastering with the present.

The villa - built by the industrialist Oskar Merkel in 1873 and for 100 years the center of life for his family and descendants - is deconstructed back to its original function as a residence as a setting by the curator Laura Becker. Subsequently inserted exhibition walls are torn down, dislocated door frames and windows are revealed, and over 40 doors are hung back in place. The artists' metaphorical deep probes unearth buried knowledge and archival objects such as historic knee socks made of Esslinger Wolle, analog and digitized film footage, photographic reproductions, and a neon sign that visitors* encounter in the exhibition. In addition to actual explorations of the wall painting, the artists' archaeological approach is understood in a figurative sense: what social, political, and economic narratives are revealed in the things of the past? How can these narratives be uncovered and made legible? Which narratives endure and how do we situate ourselves in relation to them today?

The artists trace narrative threads from the objects of the past into the present, asking how "yesterday" colors the view into the future.

In Surface Treatments - 150 Jahre Zeit, the history of the house becomes a history of labor, which the artists project into a dystopian, heated present. Through the intertwining of the Swabian capitalist work ethic and the climate crisis, the "overheated" reality as a consequence of global overproduction becomes directly comprehensible - especially during the summer months of the exhibition.

Surface Treatments - 150 Jahre Zeit takes a critical look at Villa Merkel, artistically conveys 150 years of site-specific contemporary events, and raises awareness of the perpetuation of a history of labor as a history of exploitation.











Supported by Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, Kreissparkasse Esslingen-Nürtingen and Stadtwerke Esslingen am Neckar





Since February 2019




Augmented Reality

by Barbara Herold

In the app BELLE & APHRODITE for smartphone or tablet, it is possible to experience a walk-in audio-visual metamorphosis of virtual plants.

The 3D plant BELLE extends across the entire Merkelpark. As an interactive form-cloud, it leads visitors, on the basis of data regarding their location and movement, to a virtual rose at the centre of the park.

APHRODITE was designed for the skylit atrium. In recurrent audio-visual loops, the 3D installation develops into a Phalaenopsis, a familiar type of orchid. APHRODITE can be viewed from all perspectives and, in its overlapping of simulation space and actual space, plays with the experience of abstraction, proportional relationships, proximity and distance.

Barbara Herold (*1977) directs her attention to the shaping of reality through the media. She investigates structures and phenomena which have established themselves through the influence of media technology on society; she develops her own systems on the basis of prevalent design practices such as computation and algorithms. Her works arise in the dynamic field between analogue and digital technology.



App Store & Google Play Store

Barbara Herold BELLE & APHRODITE, Seit Februar 2019