Hidden in the courtyard of an office building in the Schwanthalerhöhe district of Munich, the savvy tourist will find a unique sculpture by Olafur Eliasson. The endless staircase is called Umschreibung which is the German word for ‘circumscription’ or ‘periphrasis’. The sculpture was finished in 2004 inside the headquarters of the KPMG trust.
Umschreibung sculpture: Interpretations
According to the artist, it is supposed to create “movement without destination, a space defined by motion rather than walls“. It quickly rose to prominence among the best photo spots in Munich – especially among architecture lovers. It’s sometimes also called the ‘stairway to heaven’, though I personally don’t feel this is a good title. It’s a beautiful double helix but you won’t get anywhere near the clouds, eh?
It’s possible to climb the sculpture though it was always blocked whenever I checked. But it’s beautiful regardless. It’s not all that tall, though. I couldn’t find any official numbers but my estimate would be that the Umschreibung is 9 meters high, maybe even 10.
There are no opening hours – it’s a freely accessible courtyard. The office buildings around the courtyard are quite colorful. Depending on the angle, you can get different colors in your picture. Noon is, obviously, not the best time to be there if you want to shot a picture towards the sky. The rest of the day, the infinite staircase will be in the shadows.
How to get to the Umschreibung:
The correct address is Ganghoferstraße 29A, 80339 München
It’s quite easy to get there as the subway station Schwanthalerhöhe is right next to it. So, take the subway U4 or U5 and you’ll just have to walk about 100 meters from there to the office building of the KPMG. The Bavaria statue and the Traffic Museum (Deutsches Verkehrszentrum) are right next to it as well.
4 thoughts on “Umschreibung – Munich’s endless staircase”
Von einer ENDLOSEN TREPPE KANN WOHL DIE REDE SEIN, ABER ES IST KEINE ENDLOSE …………………….TREPPE.
DER BEGRIFF WELTRAUM ODER KOSMOS KÖNNTE IM GEISTE
ANKLINGEN, ABER GRENZENLOS
ERSCHEINT EINEM EVENTUELL DAS LICHT …. >>>
WOLFGANG PÜSCHEL GREVENBURG 5.3.2022
As an engineer this image interests me. However never having been in Munich or likely now doe age to go there, I retain the image in my head. Eionmac
Yes, or No? In the early mid-twentieth century Germany, would this have been considered “Degenerate Art?” I’m simply interested in the sensibility of the twenty-first century German, and how they might view the past/present.
Movement without destination is an apt description for this piece–it reminds me of some of Escher’s ‘impossible’ visions.
A sad statement for our times, with generations increasingly finding them-selves madly rushed to go nowhere fast.
It is attractive, but beyond it’s lesson, it is useless. Such is the life with no aim or purpose to it. Would God people would see the ominous ‘destination’ that does lie ahead of the unredeemed unbeliever.
‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’
May God help us all to choose our ultimate destination wisely.