If you ever find yourself shying away from the bustling crowds of heavy-duty tourist backpacks at the Tate Modern – never fear: you can once again live life as your cultured alter-ego at the Museum Ludwig. Haven’t heard of the Museum Ludwig? Not entirely surprising: this post-1900 orientated art collection is nestled in the shadows of the mightily impressive Cologne Cathedral. By comparison, this German Bauhaus-style building holds within it a hefty collection of not only German Expressionist works, but also the third largest collection of Picassos. Here are 5 reasons why YOU should find an excuse for a day trip to Museum Ludwig:
It really isn’t as far as you think it is…
It may seem like a fairly ridiculous idea going to Cologne for a day just to walk around a museum (even London sometimes stretches the student budget), but it need not be that expensive, or time consuming. Just an hour’s flight away from London, pre-booking in advance means it can cost as little as £50 return, which is a relatively small price to pay to go gallivanting about Europe. When you get there, after a short 10 minute train journey from the airport to the centre of town, you emerge into full view of that dark Gothic masterpiece of a cathedral, with the museum nestled behind it.
For a modern art museum, it’s very spacious…
Compared to the endless throngs of tourists taking photos of Picassos and without ever looking at the actual paintings, Museum Ludwig is a haven of tranquillity. Go on a Sunday morning, and the cavernous galleries don’t start filling out until after lunchtime, and even then, no sly elbows jabs are needed to peer closer at a Richter painting or to silently fight your way to the edge of the bench in front of Sheeler and Strand’s Manhatta. The layout of the museum is centred on a generously sized staircase, off of which mezzanine floors sprout here and there, inviting you to peer in curiously through their untitled entrances. On the top floor, you’ll find a large balcony, which has arguably the best view of Cologne Cathedral.
It really does make a difference when you can go to a museum and can dump all your coats/umbrellas/bags in a locker at no cost! Once you pay to get in (costing less than €8 for a student, which includes access to all exhibitions in the museum all day), you can leave and return as many times that day as suits you. There are benches everywhere, immaculate toilets and probably the most sophisticated and value-for-money café/bar/restaurant of any museum I have been to. Here you can easily find a table by the glass facade overlooking the Hohenzollern Bridge over the river Rhine, whilst scoffing some tasty German treats. What makes the biggest difference to comfort too, is the fact that the gallery attendants seem to want to encourage you to peer closer at the works on the walls, rather than watching you like a hawk as you tread the fine line between appearing curious and acting like a potential art thief.
The labels are in German and English!
Thanks to the fact that the Museum Ludwig houses ‘the most comprehensive collection of American Pop Art outside of the US’, all the labels across the permanent collection and in the temporary exhibitions are written in both German and English; very helpful, if like me, sie kein Deutsch sprechen. It certainly makes the travelling museum pilgrim within very appreciative and welcome, as do the gallery attendants’ attempts to explain certain abstract art concepts to you in broken English.
The Collection is impressive.
Simple as that, really. Most recently, the museum played host to an exhibition of artist-photographer, Louise Lawler’s, multi-media oeuvre; whereby the visitor walked through a gallery displaying her own works and was then herded around the permanent collection and challenged to find more of her Appropriationist works amongst others’. This unique and inventive style of curating reflects the welcoming and forward-thinking zeitgeist of the institution. I don’t think I need to throw some more household artist’s names at you to convince you to visit (Kirchner, Lichtenstein, Rodchenko…) Instead, check out their neat and informative website for the latest upcoming exhibitions (and the restaurant menu):
By Ola Olczak