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
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
Van Gogh. Experience und The Mystery of Banksy, Technikum in Mülheim
Do you want to dive into the world of Dutch master painter Van Gogh with multimedia light installations and video animations? Or would you rather get to know Banksy’s Street-Art based on 150 reproductions? The Technikum in Mülheim permits a new experience of art with two parallel exhibitions that are about as extraordinary as they get. Guests are looking at modernist paintings, enlarged multiple times, brimming with bright colours and contrasts of light in its hall. A few rooms on, they can discover true-to-the-original graffiti, photographs, sculptures, and prints reflecting the creative potential and political commitment of a world-renowned sprayer.
Max Ernst and Nature as Invention, Kunstmuseum Bonn
A mysterious world with strange plants and fantastic animals: Max Ernst caused an outcry when he published his “Histoire Naturelle” in Paris in 1926, outlining his alternative model of the origin of the world. His idea of origin understands nature as a provocative and inspiring space of possibilities. The Kunstmuseum Bonn is now introducing its guests to this artist’s surreal universe by presenting the German painter and graphic artist’s pictorial parallel world in collages, rubbings (frottages), and colour prints (décalcomanies). Related works by artists such as Hans Arp and Paul Klee, Rebecca Horn, and Thomas Ruff complete the exhibition. Guests will find nature playing the part of a familiar and foreign element alike in these works.
Dates: 13 October 2022 to 22 January 2023
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf
Pictures of a crowd of art fans strolling across the Place Charles-de-Gaulle in Paris, where the Arc de Triomphe is wrapped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable, blue-silver plastic fabric, have gone around the world. Though artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude started planning this project in 1962, it could not be put into practice until the autumn of 2021, after Christo’s death. This installation is an example of their joint lives’ work. The Kunstpalast Düsseldorf now pays tribute to them with a large overview exhibition that teaches visitors about all the projects realised and planned since Wrapped Coast happened in 1968/69. With many objects, large drawings, graphic works, photographs, and designs on display, the exhibition also references the Paris avant-garde from the 1950s that deeply influenced Christo as well as Jeanne-Claude.
Dates: 11 August 2022 to 29 January 2023
Wonderwalls. Street Art & Designer Toys, NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf
The NRW-Forum is bringing together more than 2,000 works from photography, graphic design, graffiti, sculpture, and figurative art to form a synthesis of pop culture. Elements include icons of the 1980s and 1990s, such as Bart Simpson, Luke Skywalker, or the Masters of the Universe, now appearing as small fantasy figures, now as the motifs of large murals. Anyone feeling nostalgic can enjoy a journey back in time when looking at works by Banksy, Javier Calleja, Martha Cooper, Shepard Fairey, Daniel & Geo Fuchs, Herakut, JR, or KAWS in the “Wonderwalls” exhibition. Contemporary history, consumerism, and mass phenomena are the themes here.
Dates: 30 September 2022 to 5 February 2023
Josef Albers. Homage to the square, Museum Quadrat in Bottrop, Germany
The Josef Albers Museum Quadrat in Bottrop pays tribute to the town’s most famous son with the “Josef Albers. Huldigung an das Quadrat” (Homage to the Square) exhibition. One of the 20th century’s important artists, the painter and art educator is known, among other things, for his iconic coloured-square paintings that represent Albers’ exploration of colours and shapes, lines and surfaces. The museum has assembled 90 pieces of outstanding artistic value out of the roughly 2,000 oil paintings of the “Homage to the Square” series. Works by Paul Cézanne, Giorgio Morandi, Ad Reinhardt, and Donald Judd complete the selection shown in the museum’s new extension. Further temporary exhibitions of international standing are to follow in the future in the 1,400 square meter building in the middle of the historical city garden.
Dates: 19 October 2022 to 26 February 2023
On Air, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld
“Sound is everywhere. It is a suitable material for art”. The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum supports this statement by US composer John Cage with its “On Air” exhibition, transforming into an enormous sound space for a period of four months. Guests are treated to an impression of sound material in the art of the 1950s to the 1970s through objects, videos, and installations. They can explore a sound jungle, e.g., when they are guided by signals and voices. Chirping, gurgling, and trumpeting appears here and there. Some elements are activated when people pass, while others are always active. New things can be discovered all over the place, including some exhibits by Joseph Beuys, Robert Rauschenberg, or Jannis Kounellis.
Dates: 25 November 2022 to 26 March 2023
Norbert Kricke, Movement in Space, Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg
With sprawling lines, curved forms, and expansive planes as his trademark, he was trying to produce a unity of sculpture, space, and movement as an artistic experience. Anyone who is unfamiliar with Norbert Kricke’s oeuvre should certainly drop by Museum Küppersmühle until March 2023. The venue in Duisburg’s Inner Harbour is presenting about 40 spatial sculptures and many drawings by the artist from Düsseldorf. The overview exhibition focuses on the last three decades of his work, allowing guests to comprehend his penchant for dynamism in particular in the delicate wire frames perfectly showcased in the large Küppersmühle exhibition halls. Norbert Kricke, who died in 1984, would have turned 100 in 2022.
Dates: 18 November 2022 to 31 March 2023
Monet – Rebel and Genius, Visiodrom at the Gaskessel in Wuppertal
White water lilies, green leaves, and a quiet pond are depicted in the work of famous French painter and father of Impressionism Claude Monet. The Visiodrom in the Gaskessel Wuppertal is hosting a dedicated exhibition for this, presenting an immersive multi-media experience for the entire family. 29 high-powered laser projectors project more than 250 major works by the French master onto the screen in a 360-degree show. Visitors can stroll through meadows of poppies together with the woman with the parasol, experience the changing seasons in the Creuse Valley and the tranquil Parisian suburban life of Argenteuil as well as the vibrant life at the Saint-Lazare train station.
Dates: 16 June 2022 to 16 April 2023
Hypersculptures, Zentrum für Lichtkunst in Unna
The “Hypersculptures” exhibition presents a flurry of visual effects with attractive background sound: The Zentrum für Lichtkunst in Unna has turned five basement rooms into oases of sensory experience. 20 metres long and six metres wide, they hold one monumental light sculpture each. Guests will move to electronic music between threads of light, with thousands of little LED elements sparkling in multiple colours. A machine is creating an energy illusion before the spectators’ eyes using reflection. Elsewhere, a sharply bundled strip of light is drawing attention as it crosses thin lanes of fabric that in turn cast their ghostly shadows on the ceiling.
Dates: 4 November 2022 to 30 April 2023
Zero, Pop und Minimal: Die 1960er und 1970er Jahre, Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal
Zero, optical art, minimal and concept art go beyond the visual. They involve the audience, improve spatial perception, playfully or subversively reduce the distance from the work and inspire communication. All of this is made clear by the “Zero, Pop und Minimal: Die 1960er und 1970er Jahre” (“Zero, Pop, and Minimal – The 1960s and 1970s”) exhibition in Wuppertal’s Von der Heydt-Museum, as it draws attention to a time of revolt, when artists were politically active, made provocative statements with their works, and established new types of art. At the time, the location in Wuppertal served as a centre for everything new. Parts of its comprehensive collection and the museum’s history are now reflected in the events of the time.
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
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
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.
Suitable travel offer: Tomás Saraceno - in orbit
Music, Science and Society
screen time, Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster in Aachen
Digital photo collages, chatting computers, and avatars in a reconstructed supply centre: the “screen time” exhibition in the Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster impressively illustrates how artists are probing at the technical limits in order to create new worlds of experience for their audiences. A course in the former imperial abbey leads past a total of 18 works, some of which have a mysterious, others a philosophical or socio-critical air. Even though all works come from a fixed creation framework, they offer enough space for interpretation. Guests are deliberately asked to assign their own to them.
Dates: 1 October 2022 to 26 March 2023
The last of their kind, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
What is the common factor of woodturning and wickerwork, porcelain painting, and silk weaving? They are all near-forgotten professions UNESCO has put on the list of Germany’s intangible cultural heritage. The exhibition “Die letzten ihrer Art” (The last of their kind) presents these and other now-rare trades. Guests at the Bundeskunsthalle will learn about the challenges these professionals are facing on a daily basis from personal stories. The exhibition places a special focus on revitalising such dying crafts. Current trends like the do-it-yourself one, repair and recycling workshops also play a role here, along with the sustainability debate and technological change.
Dates: 3 December 2022 to 16 April 2023
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.