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
Etel Adnan, K20 of Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf
Pictures are spaces of experience, worlds of light and warmth. They do not mirror reality, but express perception. This was perfectly clear to Etel Adnan. The artist, poet, and philosopher born in Beirut always considered painting an activity, rather than merely a form of presentation. Guests can now learn to understand her hymn to beauty in the K20 of Kunstsammlung NRW, where they will be able to approach this important representative of Modernism and her active exchange between the Arab and Western worlds. Connections between writing and painting are some essential features of Etel Adnan’s oeuvre.
Dates: 1 April 2023 to 16 July 2023
Ursula – That’s me. So what?, Museum Ludwig in Cologne
Colourful shapes are making their way through brightly coloured landscapes. Here’s a head, there some animal. A strange creature forms, only to dissolve into stripes again in the surreal picture composition. Ursula Schultze-Bluhm knew how to cast her spell on the viewer with her paintings. The artist, who was born in Mittenwalde and died in Cologne, considered Surrealism an attitude, rather than a style. Legendary creatures and mythological figures still bear witness of this on her canvases, mirroring her moods, fears, and obsessions. Museum Ludwig is presenting them in the scope of a multi-layered cabinet exhibition.
Dates: 18 March 2023 to 23 July 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 30 July 2023
The 1920s! In the kaleidoscope of Modernism, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
The 1920s are like a kaleidoscope of many facets: Globalisation is progressing in long strides. A joy in experimentation is taking a hold of the population. Gender roles are being questioned. Urban living worlds develop. Mass communication becomes part of society. Fragmentation meets a belief in progress. The wish for a new reality is growing louder. There are plenty of reasons to revisit this exciting era in greater detail. You can find an opportunity to do so in the Bundeskunsthalle, inviting visitors on a time travel in its exhibition titled “1920er! Im Kaleidoskop der Moderne”.
Dates: 1 April 2023 to 30 July 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.
Dates: 10 April 2022 to July 2023
Matching travel offering: Zero, Pop und Minimal
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 27 August 2023
Nam June Paik – I Expose the Music, in the Dortmunder U
Nam June Paik, a co-founder of video and media art, is deemed a pioneer of art around the world. His works inspire with their high degree of involvement and a musical note. Some live performances of the US composer even directly involve the audience. That can happen in the gallery room, in the concert hall, or in a TV broadcast. Guests can now learn about, and in part re-experience, these special moments when visiting the “I Expose the Music” exhibition on level 6 of the Dortmunder U, where they can independently create some electrical sounds and images with interactive works. The 100 exhibits include installations, sculptures, audio and video works, photo documents, and posters. Four works by other artists additionally deal with Paik’s never-realised “Symphony for 20 Rooms” of 1961.
Dates: 17 March 2023 to 27 August 2023
Flucht ins Paradies. Carlo Mense (1886 - 1965), Siebengebirgsmuseum Königswinter
Carlo Mense was an exceptional German painter who created some colourful landscapes, expressive portraits, and realistic-looking group pictures. The artist native to Rheine in Westphalia might deal with cubism influenced by Pablo Picasso and George Braque or cultivate the Rhenish Expressionists’ painting style with bright colours and simplified forms. The 1920s brought him closer to the positions of New Objectivity. His oeuvre is multi-layered and influenced by contemporary currents. The “Flucht ins Paradies” (Escape to Paradise) exhibition at the Siebengebirgsmuseum Königswinter bridges the gap between his early creative phases and his late pieces focusing mostly on figurative and realistic works.
Dates: 9 May 2023 to 15 October 2023
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
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
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.
Dates: 15 October 2023 to 10 March 2024
Matching travel offer: From Bauhaus to art treasures at lake Silbersee
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
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
Jenny Holzer, K21 of Kunstsammlung NRW in Düsseldorf
Public space is her exhibition stage. The concise one-liner is her masterpiece. Since the 1970s, US artist Jenny Holzer has been tackling societal subjects and issues on various carrier media with her “truisms”. They may appear on posters, LED light strips, stickers, or t-shirts bearing statements such as “Protect Me From What I Want”. Kunstsammlung NRW is now presenting Holzer’s work in a great overview exhibition focusing on the artist’s posters as well as on her paintings and works in stone. For a period of four months, the K21 is going to become a public forum for societal discourse and challenges of the present day.
Dates: 11 March 2023 to 6 August 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.
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
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