History of the Museum Ludwig
from 1976 to the Present

On Fe­bruary 5, 1976 Peter and Irene Lud­wig and the Ci­ty of Cologne signed a do­na­tion con­tract found­ing the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. The con­tact stip­u­lat­ed that the cou­ple would do­nate 350 works of mod­ern art and that the Ci­ty of Cologne would in turn erect an in­de­pen­dent “Mu­se­um Lud­wig” for th­ese ob­jects cre­at­ed af­ter 1900. Con­ceived by the Cologne ar­chi­tects Peter Bus­mann and God­frid Haber­er, the “dou­ble mu­se­um,” which housed both the Wall­raf-Richartz Mu­se­um and the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, opened in 1986. In 1994 it was de­cid­ed to di­vide the two in­sti­tu­tions. From this point on, the build­ing on the Bis­chof­garten­s­trasse has housed sole­ly the Mu­se­um Lud­wig.

To­day the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in­cludes the most sig­ni­f­i­cant trends of twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry and con­tem­po­rary art. The found­ing ca­dre of the col­lec­tion was pro­vid­ed by the Cologne lawy­er Josef Haubrich (1889–1961). In May 1946, di­rect­ly fol­low­ing World War II, he do­nat­ed to the Ci­ty of Cologne his col­lec­tion of Ex­pres­sion­ist art (Erich Heck­el, Karl Sch­midt-Rottluff, Ernst Lud­wig Kirch­n­er, Au­gust Macke, Ot­to Mueller) and other works of Clas­si­cal Mod­er­nism (Marc Cha­gall, Ot­to Dix). In Oc­to­ber 1946 a se­lec­tion of one hun­dred paint­ings was shown for the first time at the old Uni­ver­si­ty of Cologne.

Peter Lud­wig, then a young stu­dent, was among those who saw this ex­hi­bi­tion. Both the col­lec­tion and the pa­tron dee­p­ly im­pressed him and pro­vid­ed the im­pe­tus for his own art col­lec­tion.
Though Peter and Irene Lud­wig’s do­na­tion in 1976, nu­mer­ous ex­ceed­ing­ly qual­i­ta­tive works of the Rus­sian avant-garde dat­ing from 1905 to 1935 (Goncharo­va, Lari­onov, Ex­ter, Popo­va, Male­vich, Rodchenko) made their way in­to the new­ly estab­lished mu­se­um. Along with th­ese came the most com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion of Amer­i­can Pop Art out­side of the US (in­clud­ing paint­ings, ob­jects, and en­vi­ron­ments by Rosen­quist, Warhol, and Wes­sel­mann).

In 1957 the hold­ings were en­riched by a group of works by Max Beck­mann, in the form of the “Ge­org and Lil­ly von Sch­nit­zler Be­quest.” In 1958 the mu­se­um was able to purchase the Wil­li Streck­er Col­lec­tion, which in­clud­ed ma­jor works by Pab­lo Pi­cas­so, Hen­ri Ma­tisse, Os­kar Kokosch­ka, and Paul Klee, among others. Be­tween 1976 and 1988 Gün­ther and Car­o­la Peill al­so do­nat­ed sig­ni­f­i­cant por­tions of their col­lec­tion (paint­ings and graph­ics by Max Ernst, Alex­ei von Jawlen­sky, Wil­li Baumeis­ter, Ernst Wil­helm Nay).

In 1994 Peter and Irene Lud­wig gift­ed nine­ty works from their Pi­cas­so hold­ings to the Ci­ty of Cologne, with the stip­u­la­tion that the Wall­raf-Richartz Mu­se­um be re­lo­cat­ed to a build­ing of its own.

Peter Lud­wig, the in­sti­tu­tion’s name­sake, did not live to see the re­open­ing of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig on Novem­ber 1, 2001, but Irene Lud­wig marked the oc­ca­sion by do­nat­ing an ad­di­tio­n­al 774 works by Pi­cas­so. With them the Mu­se­um Lud­wig has the third largest Pi­cas­so col­lec­tion world­wide, af­ter Barcelo­na and Paris, and of­fers a rep­re­sen­ta­tive cross sec­tion of all the gen­res, ma­te­rials, and tech­niques ex­plored by the artist. Since 2000 the Mu­se­um Lud­wig has been par­tic­u­lar­ly de­vot­ed to col­lect­ing and pre­sent­ing tech­ni­cal me­dia in the area of con­tem­po­rary art. As such, es­sen­tial works by Aer­nout Mik, Dia­na Thater, and Mike Kel­ley were ac­quired through purchas­es.

On Novem­ber 1, 2001 the mu­se­um was re­opened by Kasper König. Un­der his di­rec­tion (2000–12) the col­lec­tion was ex­pand­ed with es­sen­tial pie­ces and en­tire groups of works, es­pe­cial­ly in the area of con­tem­po­rary art, and is to­day one of the lead­ing mu­se­ums of mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art in Eu­rope.

Since then, the col­lec­tion cont­in­ues to stead­i­ly ex­pand its hold­ings of lead­ing de­vel­op­ments in con­tem­po­rary art.


FE­BRUARY 5, 1976

The Mu­se­um Lud­wig is found­ed with the sign­ing of a do­na­tion con­tract by Peter and Irene Lud­wig


Found­ing year of the Col­lec­tion of Pho­tog­ra­phy and Video (purchase of works from the Gru­ber Col­lec­tion)


The new build­ing by Bus­mann and Haber­er opens


Ma­jor gift made by Gün­ther and Car­o­la Peill


Peter and Irene Lud­wig do­nate nine­ty works from their Pi­cas­so col­lec­tion to the Mu­se­um Lud­wig


Kasper König be­comes new di­rec­tor

NOVEM­BER 1, 2001

The mu­se­um re­opens with the ex­hi­bi­tion Mu­se­um unser­er Wün­sche (Mu­se­um of Our Wish­es); Irene Lud­wig do­nates 774 works by Pi­cas­so


´The mu­se­um is gift­ed a col­lec­tion of Rus­sian avant-garde art as well as twen­ty-six clas­si­cal mod­er­nist works, from the be­quest of Irene Lud­wig, one year af­ter the pa­tron’s death.


Philipp Kais­er takes over as new di­rec­tor un­til Fe­bruary 2014

OC­TO­BER 11, 2013

New pre­sen­ta­tion of col­lec­tion opens: Not Yet Ti­tled. New and For­ev­er at Mu­se­um Lud­wig


Yil­maz Dziewior takes over as di­rec­tor