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6.9.1986: Ludwig Museum opened in Cologne
The new building was not constructed without controversy. Some critics suggested that it resembled a factory. Others found the red sandstone brick walls too bourgeois. And the costs of about €135 million ($180 million) catapulted it to the position of most expensive new building of its era. But the internal design of the building was enough to convince even some of the most hardened critics.

“The architecture of this building creates its own order and its own rhythm”, said Jochen Poetter, who managed the Ludwig Museum from October 1997. “You come into a bright hall and the staircases run straight through the room and upwards, so you can already see some of the collection. You can see the art, you look out of the window and you can see people passing in the street. That’s the visitor’s first impression. She or he isn’t coming into a holy temple of art, but instead into a house, open and communicative. People enjoy being here.”

Visitors’ opinions about the Museum are equally enthusiastic. One guest commented, “At the moment my favourite piece is Rauschenberg’s Odalisk” – Then there’s “The Virgin Mary scolding Jesus”, by Max Ernst – Around the corner there’s a winter landscape by Heckel. It’s got a wonderful perspective and so many colours I love, green, orange, brown, just beautiful.”

There’s something for every taste. Pop art is in the basement, from Warhol and Rauschenberg to Lichtenstein and Rosenquist. On the top floor is the group of German Expressionists from the collection of Joseph Haubrich, Russian avant-, German post-war and the Surrealists.

Not to forget sculptures and paintings by Pablo Picasso. The middle floor still contains the Wallraf-Richartz Museum of art from the mediaeval period to the present day. Chocolate producer and collector Peter Ludwig from Aachen was very interested in the 60s in modern German and American artists.

"There was an exhibition here in 1968 with new pieces in our collection which made it clear that new German art and new Western European art was lacking in information about new figurative art”, Ludwig said. “It missed what had happened in the United States after the abstract Expressionists and Pop Art. And we saw that there was an information gap, which we have made it our task to fill.”

In 1969 the Ludwig collection moved into the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, at the time in Cologne, firstly as loan, then as a permanent donation by Peter Ludwig in 1976. But the businessman did not give his collection unconditionally. The 20th century section of the collection in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum was to be made a separate, independent museum for modern art with the name “Museum Ludwig”, with its own director and personnel.

It was immediately clear that there was not enough space for both museums. A design competition was held, won by Cologne architects Peter Busmann and Gottfried Haberer. The building also contains the Cologne Philharmonic and the Museum Library.

Music, art and literature under one roof: an opportunity for dialogue to be encouraged by Jochen Poetter through the support of crossover artists who connect the disciplines in their works or performances. A house which is open for all directions and forms of art, just as Peter Ludwig intended.

"Peter Ludwig and Irene Ludwig were and will continue to be the good spirits of the house because Peter Ludwig’s concept as a collector was a very open one”. Poetter said. “Ludwig opened various art facilities around the world, because, as he said, art is an international language. And this spirit of communication and internationality will remain.”

Money brings influence. During his lifetime Peter Ludwig often got involved in museum discussions when they were on purchase or exhibition trips. That often led to heated discussions with the museum’s director and in the media.

Within 5,340 square metres all the pieces which are still slumbering in the archives are waiting to be displayed finally. And of course, some new pieces will be displayed too. Jochen Poetter remains hopeful, even though the museum doesn’t have a budget for new purchases at the moment. New sponsors and new patrons must be found for the new generation of artists.

“I can only hope that I can pass on the torch of art collection to the next generation, and that they will continue to do what my wife and I have put so much effort into for our generation”, Ludwig said. “It is the younger generation who must get involved with young art.”
   
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