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".
Please note that interested parties should check the websites of the museums to see whether dates and opening times have changed. There you will usually find information on behavioral requirements, access limits and hygiene measures as well.
Beuys, Beuys, Beuys
An artist leaves his mark, spread throughout NRW
The year of 2021 is all about Joseph Beuys: Many museums from the cultural region are dedicating exhibitions to the exceptional artist at the occasion of his 100th birthday. They focus on his multifaceted oeuvre, his relationships to other artists, or his views on politics, the environment, and society. An overview page shows a selection of the work presentations worth seeing. All of them are part of the anniversary programme beuys 2021.
Dates: Throughout the year of 2021
Overview: Top exhibitions in the Beuys anniversary year
Art, Design, Architecture
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.
Date: Spring 2021
Heinz Mack, Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf
Monumental sculptures made of metal, marble, or granite extend far into the room, reflecting light in different facets. Photographs of large-scale campaigns such as the Sahara project bear witness to Heinz Mack’s detailed approach to his work. Constant experimentation with material, light, and movement are his trademarks. Visitors to the Kunstpalast can now study 100 central works from the painter and sculptor’s early oeuvre, created in the decades from the 1950s to the 1970s. The exhibition covers relevant stages in the artist’s life, including his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, founding of the avant-garde artists’ group “ZERO”, and his representation of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1970.
Dates: 11 February 2021 to 30 May 2021
Fashion photography of the 1990s, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf
Germany’s most successful supermodel invites you on a stroll through the 1990s’ fashion world. Visitors to the Düsseldorf Kunstpalast can follow Claudia Schiffer to her most famous fashion shows, memorable fashion parties, and the most spectacular photo shoots of a decade. The fashion icon, once discovered as a model on Düsseldorf’s Königsallee, just a few meters away from the exhibition venue, has assembled an exhibition of central photographic works, videos, music, and memorabilia. The comprehensive collection includes pictures by Herb Ritts, Arthur Elgort, and Karl Lagerfeld. Guests will be able to view some intimate photographs before once again focusing on others that are rather on the playful or extravagant side.
Dates: 04 March to 13 June 2021
Andy Warhol Now, Museum Ludwig in Cologne
His work redefined the boundaries between painting, sculpture, film and music. The “Andy Warhol Now” exhibition casts light on aspects that have received less attention before now, such as Warhol’s migration background as the son of Russian immigrants in Pittsburgh and his treatment of religious motifs, as well as life beyond heterosexual norms, which he addressed in many ways and saw as an essential factor in a diverse society. Museum Ludwig is showing more than 100 works by the world famous icon of the Pop Art movement that explain his critical attitude, including the famous Elvis Presley series and the colour variations of Electric Chair.
Dates: 12 December 2020 to 13 June 2021
Lehmbruck – Kolbe – Mies van der Rohe. Artificial biotopes, Haus Lange in Krefeld
Museum Haus Lange harmoniously unites architecture and sculpture: The extraordinary Bauhaus-style exhibition rooms, originally designed as luxurious living spaces by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, currently house 25 figurative works by sculptors Wilhelm Lehmbruck and Georg Kolbe. The works engage in a dialogue with the villa ensemble on site that captivates visitors with its timeless design, gardens, and the connection to the adjacent Haus Esters. The poses and features of the depicted bodies appear in an entirely new perspective here.
Dates: 18 April 2021 to 29 August 2021
Dürer was here – a legendary journey, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen
Albrecht Dürer’s journey to the Netherlands in 1520 and 1521 was one of the most productive periods in his life, as he travelled to Antwerp from Nuremberg via Frankfurt, Mainz, and Cologne. At his destination, Dürer met with important artist colleagues such as Quentin Massys, Bernard van Orley, and Conrad Meit. He found inspiration wherever he went. The painter genius met with scholars and princes, eventually attending the coronation of Charles V in Aachen, who reaffirmed his privileges after the death of his most important patron. Dürer created important works of art on this journey, now displayed in the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum together with works by his contemporaries. The 140 exhibits from Europe and the USA include a copy of Dürer’s account book with travel notes, laying out his experiences. This exhibition concludes the “Dürer – Karl V. – Aachen” triad.
Date: 18 July 2021 to 24 October 2021
Leonardo Da Vinci: “Das letzte Abendmahl”, Dalheim Monastery in Lichtenau
Da Vinci’s “letztes Abendmahl” (“Last Supper”) is one of the world’s most famous murals as well as one of the most important Renaissance works. It has left its mark on cultural history in the western world for centuries. Anyone who wants to appreciate the painting in its entirety normally has to travel to the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan to study the representation of this biblical scene. From May 2021 onwards, the same will be possible in Lichtenau-Dalheim, as the LWL-Landesmuseum für Klosterkultur presents a monumental reproduction in the original size of more than nine by four metres. Visitors can enjoy the masterpiece up close here in an impressive atmosphere.
Dates: 11 May to 21 November 2021
A rendezvous of friends – Camoin, Marquet, Manguin, Matisse, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso in Münster
The Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso presents around 90 paintings, drawings, and graphic works by Charles Camoin, Henri Manguin, Albert Marquet, and Henri Matisse. In its large special exhibition “Rendezvous of Friends”, the Münster location is focusing on shared features between the renowned artists and differences between their styles and works. Since all of them were students of French painter Gustave Moreau, they are commonly referred to as the “Moreau Group”. Each of them went through a Fauvist style period before moving on into other directions. Mutual influence between them is evident, as guests can see when they take a closer look at individual groups of works.
Dates: 9 October 2021 to 16 January 2022
“Brücke” and “Blauer Reiter”, Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal
One show, two artist groups, and three museums come together for the new “Brücke and Blauer Reiter” exhibition that presents the work of two associations that were pioneers of classic modernism and are currently considered the most important representatives of expressionism in Germany in correlation. The exhibition combines selected works from the Von der Heydt Museum, the Buchheim Museum of Imagination, and the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz to present a comprehensive overview. Visitors to the Wuppertaler Haus can look forward to enjoying works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Otto Mueller, all members of the “Brücke”. August Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky and Paul Klee, among other artists, represent the “Blauer Reiter”.
Date: 23 November 2021 to 27 February 2022
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 Rainer Werner Fassbinder method. A retrospective, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
The name of Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-82) represents the most successful years of German cinema after World War II. The director, screenwriter, and actor is the most important representative of the New German Cinema. Some of his productions, such as “Lili Marleen”, “Die Ehe der Maria Braun”, and “Berlin Alexanderplatz” continue to enjoy world renown since they honestly capture and comment on the events of an era. This was reason enough for the Bundeskunsthalle to dedicate an exhibition of its own to this versatile talent, presenting Fassbinder’s controversial work in the mirror of his time. The exhibition brings visitors closer to the reality of life as it was.
Dates: 21 May 2021 to 19 September 2021
Ludwig lives! Beethoven in Pop, rock n popmuseum Gronau in Gronau
The central theme of the exhibition is the traces Beethoven has left in modern pop culture to this day. The multimedia show over three floors shows where Beethoven can still be found today, including in advertising, mobile phone ring tones and in songs by The Beatles, the Toten Hosen, Helge Schneider and Judith Holofernes. The exceptional musician can also be found in films such as A Clockwork Orange and in cartoons like Peanuts.
Dates: 21 April 2021 to 3 October 2021
Global Groove. Art, dance, performance, and protest, Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany
Dancing is more than just a form of expression of one’s own feelings. Its value as a means of communication is demonstrated by the “Global Groove” exhibition at the Museum Folkwang. The institution sketches a cultural history of active interaction, establishing references between western and eastern cultures. Guests visit key moments from the history of modern art and dance in a tour that takes them through a prologue, five settings, and an epilogue, from the first traditional dance steps to the dance canon in different countries. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, films, and live performances reveal overlaps between dance, art, design, performance, and fashion.
Dates: 13 August 2021 to 14 November 2021