Over the course of their lives, the art collectors Peter and lrene Ludwig assembled more than 14,000 works, ranging from the art of ancient Egypt and classical antiquity through to international contemporary art.
The declared aim of this undertaking was to illustrate the quality and importance art possesses as a global value and unique means of human expression, highlighting this across historical time as well as different cultures and countries. The concept of "world art" served as a guiding principle, and it was understood as taking an international and transcultural approach that sought to convey social and political differences and present them as tangible aesthetic experiences. At a time when the art world was almost exclusively focused on and shaped by western Europe and north America, the two collectors, open-minded and unbiased, turned their attention to the Soviet Union, to China, and finally to central America, in particular to Cuba.
Key groupings within the collection are works of Pop art, today famous the world over, works by Picasso, the Russian avant-garde art, art from the Soviet Union, east Asian art from ancient China, as well as pre-Columbian art, the art of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquity, sculpture from the Middle Ages and the Early Modem Age, Baroque and Rococo faïence, and contemporary art from almost every corner of the globe. Currently the collection's works are spread internationally across 26 public museums in the form of donations and permanent loans. In Aachen, where the Ludwigs lived, three museums are strongly linked to the various groupings within the collection, in Cologne five. The museum with the most donations and loans is the Museum Ludwig Cologne. Altogether, around 1,150 donated works and 500 permanent loans are to be found at this unique location.
The Peter and lrene Ludwig Foundation is continuously researching, organizing, and expanding the Ludwig Collection. Twice a year, the associated museums have the opportunity to submit project proposals. The Foundation is managed by chairwoman Dr. Brigitte Franzen. Chairwoman of the board of trustees is lsabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen. The Foundation's board of trustees is made up of well-known figures who are intimately familiar with the Ludwig Collection, the collectors, and the cultural landscape in Germany and abroad.
Outside of Germany, the Foundation is currently active in Cuba, China, Russia, Hungary, Austria, and Switzerland. In Vienna and Havana two further foundations exist, both of which cooperate with the Peter and lrene Ludwig Foundation in Aachen.