Wetzlar: Leica complex shows a focus on the visual
January 22, 2015
Although beer, bratwurst and Oktoberfest are probably the first things that come to mind when thinking of Germany, efficiency, engineering and luxury automobiles quickly surface as other typical German attributes.
One shining star in the myriad high-quality, hand-crafted, German products is the Leica camera. Leica invented the 35 mm still camera in 1913 and returned to its roots with a move to its new state-of-the-art manufacturing and administrative complex in Wetzlar, north of Frankfurt, in February 2014. With an obvious reflection of the company’s product and passion, the building exterior’s most prominent feature resembles a giant lens with film extending from each side to complete the structure.
The interior of the new headquarters immediately opens to a large and spacious reception hall where the company’s ethos of fine craftsmanship and precision engineering is further illustrated with smooth curved lines that invite exploration. The mostly white reception hall gently directs visitors to its gallery area where the white curved surfaces are broken by the black straight lines of framed photographs and display cases presenting various camera models considered to be the highlights throughout the company’s history.
A principal feature of the gallery is the “36 Aus 100,” a selection of 36 iconic photographs made with Leica cameras in the past century showcasing images made by Robert Capa, Alfred Eidenstadt, Alberto Korda and Nick Ut, to name just a few.
Around another meandering corner from the main display area is a long, almost completely black hallway that offers a glimpse of production and assembly through windows with interactive touchscreens and product samples.
The dark hallway also displays historical cameras before depositing visitors in front of the Leica store,where all sorts of accessories, photo books and cameras can be purchased. A fair warning, though: Leica cameras may not be for everyone, as a fully manual Leica digital camera, complete with a lens, can cost as much as a new car.
But don’t worry if you need to sit down after seeing some of the price tags in the store because there is a restaurant with good food at a reasonable price as well as a cafe just outside the main building.
And, the visit to the factory and museum is free.
From the beauty of the cameras and lenses themselves to the iconic images presented on the walls, every minute detail has been meticulously planned to match the quality and heritage of Leica cameras. The black-and-white theme is even carried out into the bathrooms and stairwells, designed to evoke images of shutters and apertures forming a mental gestalt with the same repeating lines and curves as the cameras themselves.
World of Leica Wetzlar
Getting there: Leitz-Park,Am Leitz-Park 5, 35578 Wetzlar. From Clay Kaserne, Wiesbaden, take A66, A5 and A45 to L3451 in Wetzlar. Take exit 31-Wetzlar-Süd from A45, then follow L3451 to Am Leitz-Park.
Times: World of Leica Camera: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Leica Store: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Food: There is a restaurant in the main building and a café just in front. Cafe Leitz: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Information: Website: http://en.leica-camera.com/World-of-Leica/Leica-HQ-Germany
Fun fact: The word Leica was derived from the combination of the two words Leitz and camera.