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Cologne is a major cultural centre of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene. It is home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archaeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture.

Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (ethnography) Photo: Guido Schiefer

Museum Ludwig

The Museum Ludwig houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Europe, including a Picasso collection matched only by the museums in Barcelona and Paris. Roy Lichtenstein's M-Maybe, Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes and George Segal's Restaurant Window, all icons of American Pop Art, had all just been completed when in 1969 they arrived as a loan at Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. The works come from Peter and Irene Ludwig, who had put together the largest Pop Art collection outside of the USA. The Museum Ludwig is devoted to modern art from the beginning of the 20th century. There usually are two or more temporary exhibitions.


700 hundred years of timeless art in one museum. Fondation Corboud is one of the greatest traditional picture galleries in Germany. There you can see altar pieces and crosses from the Middle Age as well as portraits from the 18th and 19th century. The museum has one of the world’s leading collections of mediaeval painting, with Stefan Lochner’s “Madonna of the Rose Bower” as its greatest attraction. Other highlights include works by the Baroque masters, ranging from Rubens and Rembrandt to Murillo and Boucher, the German Romantics, French Realism, and Impressionism. Embark on a voyage through 700 years of art history. Thanks to the paintings from the Fondation Corboud, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum has the widest collection of impressionist and neo-impressionist art in Germany. Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Morisot, Signac and Seurat are all represented by outstanding works, and van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, Bonnard, Ensor and Munch herald the way to modernism.

Roman-Germanic Museum

The famous Roman-Germanic Museum features art and architecture from the city's distant past.Built above the Roman town villa with the world-famous Dionysus mosaic the Römisch-Germanisches Museum houses examples of art, culture and everyday life in Roman and early medieval Cologne. A highlight is the worldwide largest collection of Roman glass with the tri-coloured cage cup (c. 330/340 AD) and the miniature portrait miniature of Emperor Augustus in turquoise glass. The art of barbarian peoples in the early Middle Ages is shown in various types of precious jewellery for women and men - a form of capital in the Migration Period. These objects at the Romano-Germanic Museum form part of one of the richest early European collections

Museum of Applied Art

The Museum of Applied Art displays its splendid exhibits in the building An der Rechtschule designed by Rudolf Schwarz. Precious works of goldsmiths' art, exquisite furniture and textiles as well as glass, ceramics and porcelain from the most important European manufactories are brought together here. The collection also includes graphic art and photography, fashion, architecture and industrial design. The collection of contemporary design - unique in North Rhine Westphalia - has developed into a star attraction in the last few years.

Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum

The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum has a special position in North-Rhine Westphalia. As the only public institution of its kind it has devoted itself for over a hundred years to the dissemination of aspects of non-European history, culture and art in a wide- ranging programme of exhibitions and events. In this way it has an important educational mission which is assuming more and more importance for the solution of current questions and problems of living together in a multicultural society: It is only through a knowledge of other cultures and awareness of different concepts of life - even in the immediate vicinity - that mutual understanding, appreciation and tolerance can be promoted.

Museum Schnütgen

The Museum Schnütgen has a valuable collection of medieval art on exhibit in one of Cologne's oldest churches. Many of the pieces are already worth a trip by themselves, such as the glorious Parler Bust, the expressive Crucifix from St. George or the so-called Comb of St. Heribert, a unique filigree ivory carving. The spectrum of the exhibition ranges from wooden and stone sculptures, valuable works of the goldsmith's art and stained glass to rare ivories and textiles. A distinctive feature of the museum is its largest exhibition space, which is over 1,000 years old itself: The stillness and aura of the Romanesque Church of St. Cecilia and the special proximity to the works makes it possible to experience their spiritual vibrancy and beauty.

Cologne City Museum

The Kölnisches Stadtmuseum presents, collects and preserves exhibits and works of art on the history of the city of Cologne from the Middle Ages to the present day. It was founded in 1888 as "Historisches Museum der Stadt Köln" and since 1958 it has been housed in the "Zeughaus" - the city's former armoury. The collection provides visitors with the opportunity to gain an insight into the political history, economy, intellectual, religious and everyday life and typical characteristics of the city. Highlights of the collection include the large-scale town model, the magnificent silver of the city council, the splendid knights' coats of armour and a model of an internal combustion engine.

Archaeological Zone and Jewish Museum

One of the most spectacular cultural projects in Cologne is presently taking shape - the Archaeological Zone and the Jewish Museum on and beneath the town-hall square. The City of Cologne and the regional government are creating a new exhibition area measuring roughly 7000 m2  within the framework of the "Regionale 2010" show. Visitors will have the opportunity of seeing monuments from the last two millennia at their original site. These include the impressive ruins of the Roman governor's palace and the fragile remains of one of the most important Jewish quarters in Europe.


KOLUMBA. The art museum of the archbishopric of Cologne,  is located in a church ruin and indicates one of the oldest collection of religious art. The art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, originally founded in 1853. Since 2004, the museum has borne the name of its new location amidst the ruins of the late Gothic parish church of St Kolumba, thus providing a spiritual home to the collection. A triad of place, collection, and architecture, it allows the visitor to experience two millennia of western culture in a single building.

East Asian Art

Art from China, Japan and Korea - the first Museum of East Asian Art in Europe was founded in Cologne in 1909. The founders of the museum contributed outstanding works of Buddhist painting and wooden sculpture, Japanese standing screen painting, colour woodcuts and lacquer art as well as Chinese and Korean ceramics to the original permanent collection. A further focus of the Cologne museum are Chinese cultic bronzes, Chinese painting and calligraphy. The new museum building opened on the Aachener Weiher in 1977 is architecturally also of international rank.

Museum of the History of National Socialism in Cologne

The NS - Dokumentationszentrum (Museum of the History of National Socialism in Cologne) was founded in 1987 and is located in the EL-DE building, site of the Gestapo (secret police) in Cologne from December 1935 to March 1945. The prison tract of the building with numerous examples of wall inscriptions by prisoners was made a memorial site in 1981. The permanent exhibition "Köln im Nationalsozialismus" deals with political and social life in Cologne during the Nazi period. The Dokumentationszentrum is devoted to the commemoration of victims, research into the history of Cologne during this period and imparting the knowledge to the general public.

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