Museums in North Rhine-Westphalia offer a wide range of fascinating exhibitions with different emphases. Those interested in arts and culture can look forward to artwork from renowned painters, sculptors, photographers and musicians. Institutions will display exhibits of prominent musicians. Historic events and social phenomenons also play a role. In the following you can find a chronological overview of top-exhibitions that will take place this year. They are divided into the sections "Art, Design, Architecture" and "Music, Science, Society".
The “Celebration Picasso 1973-2023” category holds a special position, presenting items in North Rhine-Westphalia that are dedicated to the Spanish painter for the 50th anniversary of his death.
Celebration Picasso 1973-2023
Pablo Picasso – Max Beckmann, Man, Myth, World, Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal
Pablo Picasso and Max Beckmann were two key figures of modernity, with two approaches to exploring the boundaries of representational painting and many mutual points of influence: One of them turned his work towards powerful abstraction, while the other went in search of a contemporary form that would bring figurative painting to perfection. The Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal now juxtaposes these two great artists. This is the first time in the history of exhibitions that central works reflecting their attitudes and opinions are compared. This artistic confrontation is implemented together with the Sprengel Museum Hannover in the context of the Picasso anniversary year of 2023.
Dates: 17 September 2023 to 7 January 2024
With brush, pen, and curry-comb – Picasso’s graphic-print experiments, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso in Münster
Picasso’s graphic prints are characterised by the Spanish artist’s technical mastery and inventiveness. The studio exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso shows lithographs, aquatints, and linocuts in three rooms, covering everything from his first etching made at the age of 18 to his late oeuvre.
Picasso used graphic printing to create what is referred to as state proofs in the crafting process. Instead of starting his work with the idea for his finished picture already in mind, he would usually only detail it in the process of creation. This process-focused approach to pictures meant that the graphic-print techniques afforded particularly good framework conditions for his work.
Dates: 30 September 2023 to 21 January 2024
Picasso Suite 156, Museum Ludwig in Cologne
155 etchings from the years of 1968 to 1972 represent Pablo Picasso’s final legacy. Suite 156 has the Spanish painter reflecting on his own work, referring to artists who influenced him. The graphics cycle visits themes such as the frailty of old age, the female sex, brothels, and voyeurs. It is now considered exemplary for the late graphic work of this multi-faceted talent. Louise Leiris presented Suite 156 in her Paris gallery in January 1973, ten weeks before Pablo Picasso’s death. 50 years later, Museum Ludwig is now once again exhibiting the cycle in the anniversary year.
Dates: 28 October 2023 to 4 February 2024
Art, Design, Architecture
Chagall, Matisse, Miró. Made in Paris, Museum Folkwan in Essen
One was the “painter-poet” representing figurative Expressionism while the other is considered a pioneer of Fauvism. The third member of this group changed his style, influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism: Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Joan Miró may have gone through some very different developments in the 20th century; however, they all had a creative period with original graphic works while in Paris. These representatives of French Classical Modernism produced artists’ books and portfolios to appeal to wider audiences than distribution of their paintings would permit. Museum Folkwang is presenting their most important works in a large overview exhibition, also introducing some of the most famous print workshops.
Dates: 1 September 2023 to 1 January 2024
A Fantastic Journey with Jim Knopf, Bastian, and Momo, Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen
Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen is spiriting us back to the days of our childhood with its “Fantastische Reise” show: Memories of lucky dragon Falkor, Momo, and the secret magic councillor Beelzebub Preposteror will come to life as we take in the many illustrations and drawings of Michael Ende’s characters. Visitors from all age groups will be able to learn who gave Jim Knopf, Lukas, and Emma their unique looks or who coined the trademark initial letters in The Neverending Story. The exhibition deals with drawing styles, techniques, and visual languages, as well as with the associated books and their stories.
Dates: 24 September 2023 to 14 January 2024
Beyond Fame. The art of stars, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf
Peter Doherty has reached world renown as a rock star and lead singer of the band Babyshambles. Michael Stich made history as a successful tennis player and Olympic gold medal winner. Many people are familiar with Anton Hofreiter as a politician and member of the German Parliament. What do all three of these people of public interest have in common? They are also artists! NRW-Forum is now presenting their works and those of other renowned starlets in its “Beyond Fame” exhibition, where exhibits offer a glimpse into the biographies of famous people. Visitors may look forward to photographs, paintings, collages, installations, and texts.
Death and devil. The fascination of horror, Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf
The history of art and culture is characterised as much by death and horror as it is by life and beauty, as is made clear in the “Faszination des Horrors” exhibition in the Düsseldorf Kunstpalast with its 120 pieces dealing with horror, terror, decay, and all things morbid in art. The range goes from classical painting and sculpture to elaborate installations. Phantastic Renaissance demons, gloomy landscapes from Romanticism, and 20th-century horror figures are just some of the subjects tackled here for guests to discover.
Dates: 14 September 2023 to 21 January 2024
Apropos Visionär, Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln (MAKK)
The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln (MAKK) is focusing on famous photographer Horst H. Baumann, who was counted among the most productive, most creative, and boldest talents among the young German photography scene in the time between 1955 and 1965, presenting 350 of his works.
Exhibits include recordings of car races at the Nürburgring, portraits of international music and film stars, and pictures to accompany reports in magazines with high edition numbers. Among other things, Horst H. Baumann worked for the Stern and Kristall magazines. He captured famous people like Juliette Gréco, Ursula Andress, and Jane Fonda with his camera. Throughout his life, Baumann considered himself an “artist of light” in the greater sense, a creative mind using various techniques to write his work in light.
Dates: 26 August 2023 to 28 January 2024
Füsun Onur. Retrospektive, Museum Ludwig in Cologne
Museum Ludwig’s exhibition “Füsun Onur. Retrospektive” is focusing on the oeuvre of an artist whose relevance hasn’t been determined in full yet. Onur, born in Istanbul in 1938 and spending her life there, created sculptures in an abstract, constructive, and minimalist language of forms, combined with wit. While she is known in her home country of Turkey, she has hardly made it beyond its borders yet.
Visitors to Cologne can now approach the installation expert’s works characterised particularly by her close connection to Istanbul. Onur keeps putting the experience of living by the waterside into new aesthetic forms. The 94 exhibits, some of which fill entire rooms, challenge visitors to give space to their own imaginations.
Dates: 16 September 2023 to 28 January 2024
Sarah Morris. All Systems Fail, Haus Lange and Haus Esters in Krefeld
Travellers interested in culture who have passed the 180 square metre mural “Hornet” at the K20 of the Kunstsammlung NRW in the state capital of Düsseldorf would already be familiar with the name of Sarah Morris. The US-based artist creates geometrical paintings with vibrant colours and unique perspectives. She has a great interest in networks, typologies, globalisation, the city, and architecture, exemplified by her grid paintings, graphics, and murals in Krefeld as well. Guests are now able to admire the artist’s works in the Mies van der Rohe villas of Haus Lange and Haus Esters. They can be their own judge of how much the exhibits are influenced by urban life while looking at international loans as well as the works developed especially for the location.
Nudes. Radically Naked, LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster
The naked body is vulnerable. It presents the human being unshrouded, unprotected, and uncovered. Unsurprisingly, artists have always devoted themselves to this motif, capturing the nude in drawings, paintings, graphic art, sculptures, and photography alike. The LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster is now presenting some of the most important works from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in an exhibition grouped by theme, allowing guests to discover the historical nude as well as private and modern ones. Surreal worlds meet politically charged or fragile ones. Edvard Munch, August Macke, Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon are just a few of the famous names whose works are featured in the “Nudes. Radikal nackt” exhibition.
Dates: 10 November 2023 to 14 April 2024
Departure into Modern Times, Kunstmuseum Bonn
The interpretation of art can be an ambiguous matter as it connects to discourses, ideas, and events. It communicates on many levels and brings about insights. Nothing could make this clear than the “Departure into modern times” exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, showing painted and graphic art from its collection of Classical Modernism. The exhibition places works by August Macke and the Rhenish Expressionists in a larger historical framework, connecting them with captivating episodes from the early 20th century. Guests can learn more about a continuing era full of pervasive changes on all levels of human life.
Dates: 27 June 2021 to 27 June 2024
Paris 1874: Revolution in art, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum
Initially rejected, later celebrated around the world: the impressionists brought about a revolution in art with their first dedicated exhibition back in 1874, when they broke with the then-common salon exhibition of the Paris Academy. Packing the idea of freedom, artists such as Degas, Morisot, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley exhibited their works under the name of “Société Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs etc.” from 15 April to 15 May. Without committing themselves to any one political purpose, they changed everything. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud in Cologne is now reproducing this transformation of French painting in a dedicated exhibition, presenting the styles, types, and motifs associated with it.
Dates: 15 March 2024 to 28 July 2024
Leonardo da Vinci – uomo universale, Visiodrom in the Gaskessel Wuppertal
Incredible machinery, phantastic studies, memorable drawings and paintings: that is the oeuvre of Leonardo da Vinci, also once called the “uomo universale” (universal human) in Italy. The Visiodrom in the Gaskessel Wuppertal has dedicated a special exhibition to this genius, presenting an immersive multi-media experience for the entire family, where 29 high-performance laser projectors are casting da Vinci’s most important inventions and works onto a canvas in a 360-degree show. Of course, they include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Models and drafts illustrate the Master’s working process outside of the presentation room. Guests are invited on digital tours and may even discover a few machines in action in augmented reality on the Skywalk of the Wuppertal Gaskessel.
Dates: From 23 August 2023 to the summer of 2024
Hilma af Klint and Wassily Kandinsky. Dreams of the Future, K20 of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Colours, shapes, lines, and contrasts form beautiful compositions, interacting in ways that do not necessarily refer to any real objects. Quite the contrary, they can stand entirely on their own. This was the idea that caused Hilma af Klint and Wassily Kandinsky to break with the established basic principles of Western painting at the onset of the 20th century. The Swede and the Russian are considered some of the leading stars of Western abstraction today. That is reason enough for the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen to dedicate a specific exhibition at the K20 to the two great artists, juxtaposing paintings, watercolours, drawings, and notes.
Dates: 16 March 2024 to 11 August 2024
Peter Behrens - Art and Technology – LVR Industriemuseum Peter-Behrens-Bau in Oberhausen
The redesigned permanent exhibition on the architect and designer Peter Behrens presents architectural models developed specifically according to original designs as well as current and historical photographs of his buildings - going from his early residential house in Darmstadt to the tobacco factory in Linz. The LVR Industriemuseum building in Oberhausen was also designed by Behrens.
Tomás Saraceno - in orbit, Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf
It is a rather different type of art enjoyment that visitors experience below the huge dome of the "K21 Ständehaus" building that houses the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the North Rhine Westphalia art collection. They can enter the "in orbit" room installation by artist Tomás Saraceno and, in an extensive web structure covering 3 levels and a total area of 2,500 square metres, move freely between half-a-dozen "spheres", air-filled balls with diameters of up to 8.5 metres. The web sways from the steps, high above the piazza of the museum, and with it, the other people climbing it sway too - a communicative experience. The artist’s room in the K21, which was also designed by Saraceno, shows how the movement in the web construction works. Here, real spiders move about in their own webs.
Dates: the installation is part of the permanent exhibition in K21, but is occasionally closed for maintenance works. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the artwork is currently not accessible. More information can be found on the website of the Kunstsammlung NRW.
Music, Science and Society
The fragile paradise, Gasometer in Oberhausen
A 20-meter-wide globe floats high above the visitors’ heads. Projectors cast high-resolution satellite images of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR; the German Aerospace Center) onto its surface, making our world visible in all its beauty. This grace is fleeting, as the new exhibition “Das zerbrechliche Paradies” (The fragile paradise) in the Oberhausen Gasometer demonstrates impressively with award-winning photographs and videos. Some of these present beautiful landscapes and exotic animals to the guests, while others show smoking stacks or polluted waters to reflect the effects industry has on the environment. The dramatic consequences of human intervention in nature are made visible in these exhibits. The show presents the unadulterated truth, demonstrating the history climate in all its facets.
Dates: 1 October 2021 to 26 November 2023
Worldbuilding, Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf
The Julia Stoschek Collection has been permanently established in Düsseldorf’s cultural scene since 2007. One of the world’s largest private collections of time-based art, it celebrates its 15th birthday by hosting an anniversary exhibition on video games and art in the digital age. The exhibition’s name of “Worldbuilding” is the game here, as guests are led through a number of parallel worlds that reflect the aesthetics behind digital games and question their origins. Passionate gamers, as well as art enthusiasts and anyone interested in technology, can discover anything from single-channel video work to interactive environments to engage with the mass phenomenon of “gaming.” Of course, virtual-reality applications and AI-based projects are a must-have in this modern presentation as well.
Dates: 5 June 2022 to 10 December 2023
150 years of Villa Hügel, Villa Hügel in Essen
2023 will see Villa Hügel and its adjacent Hügelpark celebrate their 150th anniversaries. For this event, Krupp-Stiftung is rolling out the building’s diverse history in an anniversary programme that presents the past, present, and future in one. Museum guests can take a journey through time to the former residence of the Krupp family using an augmented-reality app. Special, in part elaborately restored, rooms are freely accessible to the public for the first time. Films, lectures, and panel discussions will also introduce the past of this property comprising a total of 269 rooms and 28 hectares of green area in the south of Essen, while explaining about the property’s prospects for the years to come.
Anything goes. Postmodernism, 1967 – 1992, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
Is Postmodernism over – or are we still in the middle of it? That’s the question the exhibition “Anything goes” in the Bundeskunsthalle is trying to answer together with its guests. It is holding up a distorting mirror to the present times, taking up past and present conflicts and cultural phenomena to place them in a discourse of the times. Visitors can learn more about the early days of the information society, the unleashing of the financial markets, the birth of various subcultures, and the appearance of new sites of culture. The largest exhibit in this context is the Bundeskunsthalle itself. Smaller ones include objects from design, architecture, film, philosophy, art, and literature.
Dates: 29 September 2023 to 28 January 2024
Mythos und Moderne. Football in the Ruhr area, 12-metre level of the Ruhr Museum on the Zollverein World Heritage site
The “Revier” is a football region, where ball sports equal a lifestyle. The derbies between traditional clubs are fixed dates in the calendar. Many matches are long remembered, as evidenced by more than 450 photographs in the Ruhr Museum today. With its “Mythos und Moderne” (Myth and the Modern Day) exhibition, the museum presents rarely or never-before shown photographs from its own archive, using the European Football Championship 2024 as the perfect occasion for this. Guests can get in the mood for the big event by looking at the past and present of a religion of football. Images from popular photographers, renowned photo agencies, and those found in the archives of cities and associations are included here.
Dates: 8 May 2023 to 4 February 2024
Immanuel Kant and the spirit of Enlightenment, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
The categorical imperative as the basic principle of moral action and the conditions of the possibility of enlightenment: Immanuel Kant characterised an entire era of research in the humanities as a philosopher, opening gates for debates that continue far into our present time. With his 300th birthday just ahead in April 2024, the Bundeskunsthalle is now hosting a comprehensive exhibition to both cover his pioneering contributions and present the historical person behind them. Easily accessible mediation formats are to enable all guests to immerse themselves in his complex considerations on ethics, emancipation, epistemology, and international law. Three VR stations create virtual worlds, e.g., with a presentation of the Baroque city of Königsberg, where Kant spent 73 years of his life.
Dates: 24 November 2023 to 10 March 2024
D.I.S.C.O - Cool - Chic - Crazy, rock’n’popmuseum Gronau
There’s a bouncer at the door in control of admissions. Pulsating music is reaching your ears. The cloakroom is full of disco outfits. A queue is waiting in front of the DJ booth. The ground is shaking. The dance floor is resplendent in a sea of lights... Guests wishing to plunge into 1970s nightlife will find just what they are looking for at the rock’n’popmuseum Gronau from August onwards, where the “D.I.S.C.O” exhibition is going to ensure some nostalgic moments in an interactive experience zone. Let posters, recordings, films, and photographs spirit you back to a time of dancing nights, world hits, and club culture. The social programme will include local music sessions and revival parties.
Dates: 18 August 2023 to the summer of 2024
Modern Times, LWL-Museum für Archäologie und Kultur in Herne
The “Modern Times” exhibition of the LWL-Museum für Archäologie und Kultur presents a varied potpourri of extraordinary objects from the last two centuries of human history to its guests. Recovered by archaeologists from around the world, they each have very unique stories. A can ring from the Woodstock-Festival grounds dating back to 1969 may serve as an eye-catcher, or visitors may discover a videogame cassette of the world’s worst game, found in the US state of New Mexico.
Exhibits are broken down into six categories: innovation, destruction, emotion, purpose, special features, and memory. Hobby researchers can discover the secrets behind the roughly 100 exhibits presented here on a round tour. “Guests will also find some objects that they are personally familiar with and that they have already had contact with,” explains museum manager Dr. Doreen Mölders. The expert points out that the exhibition is, first and foremost, dealing with interpretation in the context of time.
The special exhibition also offers an overview of the methods used and the challenges faced by modern archaeologists when planning and digging, evaluating finds and results, and archiving them.
Dates: 8 September 2023 to 18 August 2024
BioInspiration, DASA working world in Dortmund
Technical innovations are often inspired by nature, as is made clear by inventions such as Velcro, impact-resilient car bodies, and robot arms. The “BioInspiration” exhibition illustrates things inspired by aspects from about 2.8 billion years of evolution in the last few centuries.
The exhibition illuminates solutions from nature that can be transferred to objects in order to meet new challenges. Bionics, for example, offer great potential for more efficient use of energy and adjustment to climate change.
Dates: 21 October 2023 to 25 August 2024
Planet Ozean, Gasometer Oberhausen
The world’s oceans are beautiful, as the “Planet Ozean” (planet ocean) exhibition in the Gasometer Oberhausen is making clear in its large photographs and films, with a specially set up sound room, and the immersive installation of “Die Welle”. Oversized canvases produce a vibrant oceanic world with a vast variety of life forms overhead in the gasometer. Guests can watch shoals of fish swim through the water or view giants of the seas in true size.
The ground floor presents recordings of a Pacific striped octopus dancing merrily through a lagoon, a blue shark hunting, or a leafy sea dragon at camouflage. The sound room allows guests to immerse themselves even more deeply with all senses. It is filled with plops, crackles, pops, and taps as thousands of tiny crustaceans, living coral reefs, or a shoal of codfish are going about their daily business. Protection of the seas is another subject treated in various exhibits, including an interactive globe visualising current insights of research as a geographic information network.
Dates: 15 March 2024 to 30 December 2024
The heritage of Antiquity, Diözesanmuseum Paderborn
Values, cultural techniques, and scientific knowledge survive the millennia, reaching all the way from antiquity through the Middle Ages to our day. How does tradition and transmission actually work, however? The Diözesanmuseum Paderborn is going to tackle this question in its next major exhibition, picking examples from architecture, literature, painting, arts and crafts, and astronomy to analyse how we pass on knowledge. Guests will learn about the heritage that could be preserved, but also about what was inevitably lost.
Dates: Autumn 2024 to January 2025