Major new museum opens in Cologne

After 15 years of planning and construction, a major new museum complex opens its doors in the centre of Cologne this weekend. The city's head of culture promises that the €80 million project will be a visitor magnet.

Major new museum opens in Cologne
Photo: DPA

The building is the new home of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, an anthropological museum specializing in non-European cultures, and includes an extension to the neighbouring Schnütgen Museum for medieval European art.

Georg Quander, head of the culture department for Cologne, called this weekend’s opening the city’s most important cultural event of the year. The building enhances what is known as the cultural quarter of the Neumarkt district, which includes the central library, the Architecture House and the St. Peter’s Kunst-Station – a music and art venue.

Quander blamed the protracted planning and construction of the new project on the complicated political and economic conditions in the city. The new building fills in what was infamously called the ‘Cologne Hole,’ after a much-loved Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle gallery was pulled down in 2002 despite protests from across Germany’s art community.

The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum takes a thematic, rather than a traditional geographical approach to its exhibition of ancient cultures from around the world. The Schnütgen Museum, meanwhile, has gained considerable extra space in the new building, and now also includes the Cäciliengarten, which offers a chance to explore the plant word of the Middle Ages.

Entry is free for the opening weekend.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


7 unmissable events taking place across Germany in April

Spring is in the air and April is packed with events to celebrate the end of winter in Germany. Here are some of our top picks.

7 unmissable events taking place across Germany in April

1. March 31st – April 23rd: Dippemess, Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt’s largest and oldest folk festival takes place twice a year in the festival square on Ratsweg. This year’s spring edition of the festival kicks off on the last day of March. 

The Dippemess is a tradition which dates back to the 14th century, when the “Maamess”, as it was called back then, was a medieval market for household goods. Potters from the surrounding regions would come to sell their ceramic bowls and containers – known as “Dippe” – which gave the event its name.

Over the years, the ceramic sellers were joined by a wider variety of stalls and popular amusements and, in the 1960s, the Dippemess eventually moved from the city centre to the fairground on Ratsweg.

Today, visitors to the Dippemess can expect a mix of modern amusements – such as fairground rides and sweet stands – and traditional offerings, such as stalls selling Apfelwein (apple wine) and typical sausage delicacies. 

2. April 2nd – 10th: Festival Days at the State Opera, Berlin

The Berlin State Opera’s annual classical music festival is one of Germany’s cultural highlights in April. It’s been running since 1996 and offers a varied programme of musical theatre and concerts with international stars at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Philharmonie Berlin.

Former conductor of the Berlin State Opera and founder of Berlin’s Festival Days at the State Opera, Daniel Barenboim, at a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. Photo: picture alliance / Benjamin Petit/dpa | Benjamin Petit

This year’s festival will be dedicated to the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner and the programme features some of his most famous operas – including ‘The Valkyrie’ and ‘The Rhinegold’.

3. April 8th – 23rd: Nuremberg Folk Festival

Bavaria’s second-largest folk festival kicks off over the Easter Weekend and runs for two weeks. On Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a troupe of easter bunnies will deliver sweets to children to celebrate the holiday. 

As well as the rides and confectionary stands which will be up for the duration of the festival, there will also be plenty of fun events, such as a Spanish-themed evening to celebrate Nuremberg’s twin city Cordoba in Spain and a light show on ‘Magic Friday’. 

4. April 18th – 23rd: International Women’s Film Festival Dortmund+Cologne, Dortmund 

The International Women’s Film Festival Dortmund+Cologne is Germany’s largest forum for women in the film industry and presents outstanding films by women spanning all genres and styles.

For almost 40 years the festival has been promoting the influence of women in all fields of the cinema industry, mainly as directors, but also as cinematographers, producers, scriptwriters, composers, songwriters and actors.

The Spring edition of the festival will be taking place in Dortmund and the programme has a special focus on films for children and young people.

5. April 21st – May 7th: Spring Festival, Munich

The spring festival, sometimes called ‘little Oktoberfest’, could not be more jam-packed with events and activities.

Over 100 stalls, 2 beer tents with daily live music, an all-weather beer garden, a beer carousel from Hofbräu and the Hacker-Weissbieralm await visitors on the Theresienweise in April 2023.

Visitors to the spring festival walk over the Theresienwiese in Munich, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

Some of the events put on by external organisers – such as the flea market of the BRK or the classic car meeting of the ACM – are particularly worth a visit.

6. April 22nd to May 14th: Spring Festival, Stuttgart

Europe’s largest spring festival is always worth a visit, especially for families.

What began over 200 years ago as an agricultural festival with horse races and prize-winning livestock is now a huge event which attracts around 1.2 million guests each year over 3.5 kilometres along the Neckar river.

Balloons fly about in front of the Ferris wheel during the 82nd Stuttgart Spring Festival at the Cannstatter Wasen. in 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

There’s fun on offer for the whole family, with a wide variety of gastronomic delights, fast-paced rides and nostalgic stalls. In the middle of it all and not to be missed is the Königsalm – a traditional wooden alpine hut made of centuries-old wood – where visitors can dine on local specialities and try fruit brandies.

7. April 28th – 30th: Gallery Weekend, Berlin

Describing itself as one of “the leading events for contemporary art in Germany”, Berlin’s Gallery Weekend features open exhibitions from young and established artists in 55 galleries across the city.

Highlights include a joint exhibition by Anna Boghiguian and Alice Creischer at KOW Gallery and David Claerbout’s exhibition ‘Hemispheres’ at the Esther Schipper Gallery.

A full list of participating galleries can be found here.