Hugo Kohl Aims to Revitalize Metalwork
News shop also includes metalworking museum.
July 19, 2017
Hugo Kohl, owner of Hugo Kohl Jewelry Shop and Museum in Downtown Harrisonburg, has a goal to draw the public’s interest back to its local craftsmen. In an attempt to educate the citizens of Harrisonburg on the arts of handcrafted materials, he recently opened his metalworking museum and jewelry shop in the newly remodeled Icehouse after previously being located on Mason Street on the other side of Downtown. At the new location, which has a bigger floor plan, he has been able to expand his establishment and leave it open to the public, which he was unable to do at his previous location.
Kohl has been in the metals and jewelry business for 30 years and first got his start in the art world at a young age. Kohl did note that he had some influence at a young age to jump into the industry, as his mother worked in a studio and Kohl spent a great deal of time in the space. He attended JMU and earned his degree in metalworking and jewelry.
Kohl is now the owner and chief operator of the Hugo Kohl museum. At the museum, Kohl gives talks and classes on metalworking and art.
“The new floor space that the Icehouse provides has helped them with opening the museum” Kohl said. “We can now keep pieces out on display for longer periods of time than before,” Kohl said.
Kohl also believes art educators play a large role in the community, noting some of Harrisonburg’s other exhibits as other strong showcases of art.
“There are other museum choices, like the Harrisonburg Quilt Museum, which in the quilt world is a big deal, I think quilts are important in society because they have interesting stories to tell.” Kohl said.
Kohl believes that in today’s society with the rise in technology, there is a lack of knowledge about where products actually come from.
“I could ask you where your food comes from and you’d say, ‘the grocery store’, but that’s a warehousing experience,” Kohl said. “We used to have craftsmen who were woodcarvers or tin smiths, that would create pieces for ultra wealthy patrons, and you knew where those pieces came from, know most pieces are mass produced and you don’t really know where it comes from.”
Kohl expressed the fact that each piece of equipment in his shop, no matter how small or big, is a big part of his lifestyle.
“Everything in that shop has a purpose, from a hammer to a drill press, So don’t think I’m just a rich guy with a weird hobby, I’m a poor guy trying to eke out a living in a hyper competitive industry,” Kohl said.