The Kunstmuseum Bonn is not only renowned for its collection, but due to its exceptional architecture, it is also a highlight of the Federal City of Bonn, which can hold its own internationally as well.
The building by Axel Schultes, with its ambitious concept of “flowing” space, provides convincing conditions both in terms of the dimensions of the individual rooms, their visual and material connecting axes, as well as with reference to the flow of light, for optimally presenting art in all of its facets, from the Classical Modern to the varieties of the most recent art.
After the Museum had been housed for many years in cramped conditions in the inner city of Bonn, the building that had been planned in the mid-1980s by the team of architects Dietrich Bangert, Bernd Jansen, Stefan Scholz and Axel Schultes (BJSS) was opened in June of 1992. As a component of the Bonn Museum Mile the architecture is convincing both from the outside and from the inside due to its openness and its flow of light. The discreet, but in no way somber, language of forms with its playful components does not lose itself in a self-celebration of architecture. Indebted in its size to the spirit of the late 1980s, the building wholly subordinates itself to its service function as an exhibition location for the fine arts, also from a practical standpoint.
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TOUR AROUND THE BUILDING
The Kunstmuseum Bonn opens up to visitors who may enter it from any of three different entrances. From the Foyer they are then led via a spectacular stairs, which opens up the darkened entry area, through the light, into a generous upper floor of the Museum. But also a walk through the ground floor is rewarding: for one thing, one of the core elements of the Kunstmuseum, the Collection of the Rhenish Expressionists, the Prints exhibition rooms and further rooms of the collection are all located here. Another thing, an open glass wall on the ground floor makes possible the attractive interplay between inside and outside.
The rooms on the upper floor impress us with their natural light flooding in from the outside that stages the art itself in a sparkling manner. The stairs both separate and connect the collections and the temporary exhibition spaces, which are designed in keeping with the principle of opening views through the building so characteristic of the museum. Here as well as there, the visitor walks through room types that also vary in size. They are mirrored, and thus repeat themselves, along a diagonal axis running through the entire museum.
At any rate, the rooms are fairly large and contain – in accordance with the collection concept of the museum –individual “artists’ rooms”. In this way it is possible to trace in detail the work of a particular artist holding an important position in German art after 1945. Here again we realize the advantage of having a practically thought-out architectural design, since the division of the rooms is achieved through double walls that house the technical infrastructure. For this reason, art can enjoy its autonomy within an ideal “White Cube” free of disturbances, while shaping the appearance of the room at the same time.
Connected to the main building by a sweeping roof (in the shape of a sail) is a narrow building with the same sandstone façade. It shields the actual museum from the noise of the busy B9 Federal Highway, and houses the administration as well as the rooms for museum education, where numerous activities are launched.
Via the Museum Square there is a connection to the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany. This building, designed by Gustav Peichl, was also opened in June of 1992, thus marking together with the Kunstmuseum the beginning of the Bonn Museum Mile, which has grown considerably in the meantime.