Why? more about the decision to remove the wall
Harry Pierce: ‘Much very incomplete work had to be removed…the foundations were drained
and a floor was laid down’
Fred Brookes:'It is indisputable that much of the original magic has been lost: that was inevitable in taking it from the barn; from Mr. Pierce's beautiful garden; from its remote and lovely setting. We hope that in rescuing it from decay and destruction we have done justice to the work of a great man'.
After Schwitters’ death in 1948, Harry Pierce first made some attempts to indicate the planned
work. There was a section of plaster extending on to the right hand return wall which Pierce and Cook had put up
after Schwitters' death to indicate where he had planned the next part to be. The extension was excluded from the
removal. Later on, in the Hatton, it has been replicated.
(See over Mr. Pierce's head in the photo).
Afterwards he opened the Merzbarn to the public with a tea room inside (with a cake display cabinet), but the damp climate was slowly destroying the wall.
The conservation problem was that the wall was built against an earth bank and dampness inevitably seeped in from behind and below, and it was this which caused the deterioration of the plasterwork.
In 1965, against the wishes of Edith Thomas, Pierce decided to separate the wall from the barn in order to protect it by selling the work to a museum or gallery.
Pierce tried to sell it, firstly to the Tate Gallery in London, who had sent its conservation chief, Dr Werner, to examine the Merzbarn. Dr Werner’s conclusion was that it was impossible to move it. Then he tried to sell it to Abbot Hall Art Gallery (Kendal) and finally to London’s Marlborough Gallery. But no one he approached was willing to take it on.
Finally he donated the wall to the Department of Fine Art in Newcastle University, which decided to undertake the removal, restoration and preservation of the Merzbarn, under the auspices of Richard Hamilton.
(conflict: click here)