Beuys and Leverkusen

Illustration Schloss Morsbroich, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Museum Morsbroich is tucked away, well-concealed in the greenery. This is where one of the most curious stories connected to Beuys’ artworks happened. It brought up the question: Is that art? Morsbroich Castle also receives attention for its surroundings with a walk-in fountain and an adjacent English landscaped garden with old trees, ideal for walks and picnic breaks, however.

Morsbroich Castle in Leverkusen, © Johannes Höhn

A scan­dal at Mors­broi­ch Castle

How Beuys’ bathtub turned spark­ling clean

There was a lot going on. Chairs were lacking at a small festivity of the Leverkusen SPD (a German party) in Morsbroich Castle on 3 November 1973. Ready to spring into action, two women from the partying group had the janitor unlock the storeroom for them, where they found not only various chairs, but also an old bathtub filled with gauze bandages, band-aids, and grease. As it seemed perfect for washing glasses in it, they dragged the tub into the party room and scrubbed it perfectly clean, thereby destroying a piece of art worth DM (the currency “Deutsche Mark”) 80,000 at the time in just a few minutes. Joseph Beuys had created the bathtub, which was only temporarily stored there. Though initially refusing to restore the tub due to it being created in a “unique act of creation”, Beuys later agreed to “rework” it.

Museum Morsbroich, © Uwe Miserius

Art at Mors­broi­ch Castle

Walk-in sculp­tures

Though the bathtub is not on display there today, the town museum of contemporary art at Morsbroich Castle provides plenty of other exhibits, including more than 400 paintings and sculptures as well as about 5000 works on paper by artists such as Josef Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Günther Uecker, Ives Klein, or Alexander Calder. The freely accessible sculpture park around the museum contains some walk-in works of art – including the “Water Island, Morsbroich” walk-in fountain by Danish artist Jeppe Hein that consists of a circular wall of water. With a little practice, visitors can enter and leave the fountain interior without getting wet.

Urdenbacher Kämpe, © Johannes Höhn

Through the Urden­bach­er Kämpe

A de­tour to Zons

The cycling track from Düsseldorf to Leverkusen leads through the Urdenbacher Kämpe nature reserve in a traditional Lower Rhine cultural landscape with pollarded willows, fruit trees, and precious wet meadows. The many fruit trees are particularly fascinating. On the other side of the Rhine, cyclists pass the charming town of Zollfeste Zons, where they can opt for a brief detour to enjoy a time travel back to the Middle Ages, complete with a mill and town wall. The Rhine wetland meadows along the route as well as the Zonser Grind nature reserve offer impressive views and an opportunity to get off the bike for a break by the water.

Off to Leverkusen

Discover special Beuys places by bike?

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Illustration Schloss Morsbroich, © Tourismus NRW e.V.