In 1961, the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia acquired altogether 88 works by Paul Klee, which form the foundation of the museum’s collection. During his tenure (1962-1990), founding director Werner Schmalenbach assembled an exceptionally high-quality collection of classical modernist works, creating the sole regional collection in Germany to specialize in modern art. Schmalenbach’s successor Armin Zweite (1990-2007) expanded the Kunstsammlung Nordhrein-Westfalen, adding numerous works of contemporary art as well as sculpture. Beginning in September 2009, Marion Ackermann has served as the new director of the Kunstsammlung, which has now acquired a third main pillar with the Schmela Haus, located in Düsseldorf’s historic district.
Celebrated in 1986 was the inauguration of the newly-constructed building of the Kunstsammlung am Grabbeplatz, with its characteristic black granite façade. Working in the tradition of Arne Jacobsen, the Copenhagen architectural office of a Dissing + Weitling created a noble, restrained building whose detailing is typical of the period, and which yielded primacy to the outstanding works of art on display. In 2008, the foundation stone was laid for an extension building, one that would be integrated seamlessly into the architectural idiom of the original structure. Inaugurated in July 2010 together with the reopening of the totally renovated existing building is an additional exhibition area measuring 2000 m², which features state-of-the-art exhibition technology and takes the form of two pillar-free exhibition halls – thereby bringing the total surface area to 5000 m².
Added in early 2002 as the second main pillar of the Kunstsammlung and accommodating contemporary art was the Ständehaus am Kaiserteich, until 1988 the seat of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia. Four wings with continuous arcades surround the building’s central public area, a spacious plaza. The creative treatment of this representative building in the Historicist style (1876-80) by the Munich architectural office of Kiessler + Partner created a modern museum building with a striking glaze domed roof which shapes the building’s aesthetic and at the same time spans an expansive sculpture garden located on the uppermost level. Together, a flexible hall for temporary exhibitions in the ground floor level and the upper galleries comprise more than 5300 m² of surface area.
As our most recently acquired venue, the Schmela Haus on Mutter Ey Straße beautifully complements the architectural ensemble of the Landessammlung. Completed by Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck (1918-1999) in 1971 and now under landmarks protection, this building was the first erected in the Federal Republic specifically as a gallery. Its intricately interlocking architecture, constructed on five levels in pumice concrete blocks, was acquired by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia after it was vacated by the gallery. Conceptualized for the Kunstsammlung as an experimental rehearsal stage, this locale will respond with a lively program to current artistic developments. The building opened in winter of 2009/2010 with the event series “Beuys ausstellen!” (Exhibiting Beuys!).