Following a four-year construction, the extension to the Küppersmühle Museum in Duisburg, Germany, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, has now been completed. From September 25, 2021, the museum will open its doors to visitors once again. With the presentation of works from the Ströher Collection across an additional 2,500 m2 of space, the MKM is set to become a central venue for German and European post-war art. On display are some 300 works, spanning the immediate post-war period to the present day.
Bricks on the outside, white cube on the inside: The MKM extension combines industrial culture with contemporary museum architecture. In keeping with the original conversion of the historical grain mill into a museum (1999), Herzog & de Meuron have once again taken their cue from the existing MKM building and the architecture of the inner harbour. Three structures of varying height form a new main edifice, which rounds off the row of buildings flanking the harbour basin. With its striking red brick façade, the new extension culminates in a square with 35 newly-planted sycamore trees.
In the interior, a sequence of 36 brightly-lit and clearly-structured collection rooms provide a spacious setting for the exhibited art works. As part of the extension construction, the historic silos were also refurbished and integrated into the new structure, from which bridges on the first and second upper-levels connect the new and existing galleries. The silos have been preserved as an industrial monument, both in terms of appearance and original material. A viewing platform on top of the silos is accessible to the public, depending on the time of year and weather, and offers sweeping views of the Ruhr region.
“The extension accords with the sequence of impressive historical brick structures lining the dockside,” explains Herzog & de Meuron. “Consequently, the new structure completes the existing museum and harbour basin in a visually appropriate way, and forms a suitable conclusion to the row of buildings along the harbour basin. The new project constitutes an integrating and complementary architecture.”
On display in the large hall on the third floor of the extension are works by Erwin Bechtold, as a reminiscence of his 2020 exhibition which was curtailed by the pandemic. In a later hanging, the complete cycle “Original and Forgery” by Sigmar Polke will be exhibited for the first time. Subsequent rehanging of rooms and unveiling of further works from the Ströher Collection will contribute to the overall presentational concept. In travelling exhibitions, works from the collection will also be showcased, as with Hanne Darboven’s recent major show The Rainmaker, or the currently running major Andreas Gursky retrospective.
“The collection mediates an essential chapter of post-war German art history”, explains MKM director Walter Smerling. “The centrepiece, as it were, are the informel and abstract painters, the founders of German postwar art, such as Willi Baumeister, K.O. Götz or Emil Schumacher, together with their European colleagues Emilio Vedova, Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva or Wols. Also the following generation, which intensively confronted German history — Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter etc. — is also represented with key works. At the same time, the collection is highly personal, which lends it its unique character and vitality. One can sense the enthusiasm for abstraction across the decades, as evidenced by works from Walter Stöhrer, Christoph M. Gais or David Schnell. And the principal objective of the collectors, namely to present ‘their’ artists with selections of works from across the different creative phases of their careers, is a kay part of the museum. Visitors can experience German art history first-hand, compare the teacher and student generations, and trace the artistic development of important individual artists. The extension, and the new opening, which will see the collection presented on this scale for the first time, represents a priceless asset for the artistic landscape of Germany.”