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.
Art, Design, Architecture
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
Georges Braque. Inventor of Cubism, K20 of the NRW Art Collection in Düsseldorf
Geometrical bodies are taking shape in paintings. This kind of art focuses on presenting the nature of their shapes, while strict depiction of reality is rendered irrelevant. Young Georges Braque and his friend Pablo Picasso left their mark on Cubism, possibly the most revolutionary era in the history of modern painting, for eight years before World War I. About 60 masterpieces in this style will be exhibited by the Kunstsammlung NRW at K20 Grabbeplatz starting this September. Highlights include Braque’s paintings “Les Abres” (1908) and “Piano and Mandola” (1909-1910).
Dates: 25 September 2021 to 23 January 2022
Andreas Gursky, Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg
One of the world’s most successful contemporary photographers, Andreas Gursky is known for his oversize formats, his strictly structured pictorial compositions, and his decisive use of colour. Museum Küppersmühle is now presenting 60 works by the renowned Düsseldorf artist, who is always on the search for diversity in unity and trying to give his viewers a subjective look at the world’s phenomena. Visitors can look forward to the overview exhibition presenting landscapes, architecture, or people from a new perspective and start finding small things in big ones. The exhibition will serve as a comprehensive introduction to Gursky’s pictorial cosmos.
Dates: 09 September 2021 to 30 January 2022
Discovered! Painting techniques from Martini to Monet, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne
Art production has been harbouring diverse secrets for centuries, ranging from special painting and drawing techniques of the great masters to use of particular materials and substances. The Wallraf-Richartz-Museum is now tracking down these mysteries in its “Entdeckt!” exhibition, uncovering the secret tricks of Martini, Cranach, Rubens, Rembrandt, Friedrich, Manet, Monet, and others. The museum presents research results from about two decades, using cutting-edge technology, X-ray, infrared, and stereo microscopy in order to examine layers of paint and bring light into the dark.
Dates: 08 October 2021 to 13 February 2022
AR-Biennale, NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf
The first AR-Biennale of the NRW-Forum is a digital sculpture park for fans of art to walk in with their smartphones or tablets as their displays present gigantic, moving sculptures resplendent in bright colours in the Ehrenhof and Hofgarten. Labels such as “Is this real?” will take on shape at the push of a button. Game pieces can be moved forward by a few fields on the ground with a swipe. A total of 20 international artists contribute to the interactive open-air exhibition that merges the analogue and digital worlds. The event is to take place every two years in future, presenting the latest innovations of the augmented reality world.
Dates: 01 August 2021 to 20 February 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: 21 November 2021 to 27 February 2022
EFIE: The Museum as Home, Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U
The “EFIE: The Museums as Home” exhibition makes visitors think about whether a museum can serve as a refuge for art abducted from its home. It presents historical and contemporary art from Ghana, combining videos and installations with historical artefacts also originally from Ghana but kept in German museums. The exhibition in the Dortmunder U is trying to break open and expand the traditional understanding of the museum as an institution. The exhibition serves as a starting point for discussing the assumption that cultural objects could be presented objectively and value-neutrally with its audience.
Dates: 10 December 2021 to 6 March 2022
I. Max Liebermann. A European Artist, Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf
He is considered one of the most important representatives of German Impressionism and a pioneer of Modernism in Germany, with his paintings of vivid landscapes and groups of people against an impressive backdrop. Those viewing them will notice the many details added by Berlin painter and graphic artist Max Liebermann with his keen observations of nature. The Kunstpalast Düsseldorf is now presenting a comprehensive choice from his oeuvre. The museum places around 120 paintings in the context of several works from his colleagues in European centres, including works by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, or Rembrandt van Rijn. One room is entirely dedicated to Liebermann’s influence on the Düsseldorf art scene.
Dates: 3 February 2022 to 8 May 2022
Renoir, Monet, Gauguin. Images of a flowing world, Museum Folkwang in Essen
Museum Folkwang is hosting an assembly of international impressionist masterpieces in an overview exhibition in 2022. The famous composition “On the boat” by Claude Monet and “The Port of Saint Tropez” by Paul Signac will be meeting Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Lise with Umbrella” and Paul Gauguin’s “Girl with a Fan” in Essen. The exhibition “Bilder einer fließenden Welt” exemplifies based on about 120 exhibits how a style was able to develop to the point where it heralded a new era of art. Museum Folkwang’s own inventory is entering into a dialogue with works from the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo for this, with pieces that haven’t been exhibited in Europe at a larger scale since the 1950s.
Dates: 06 February 2022 to 15 May 2022
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 30 June 2022
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 8 January 2023
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
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: 10 September 2021 to 06 March 2022
Rome’s flowing borders, five sites in the Rhineland
The Lower Germanic Limes has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 27 July 2021. The river border, with a length of more than 400 kilometres, follows the course of the Rhine from that time. Starting around 15 BC, it separated the Roman province of Lower Germania from free Germania for more than 450 years. A five-part exhibition now teaches history fans from all age groups about its significance for the development of urban centres in the Rhineland. Museums and archaeological parks in Detmold, Xanten, Bonn, Haltern am See, and Cologne have opened their exhibitions in September to explain where military and civilian centres were located in NRW, where people used to explore, build, trade, and fight. Unique new finds, research results, and replicas of Roman buildings and objects bring the Roman era to life.
Dates: September 2021 to October 2022
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 30 December 2022