Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Photo: Walter Klein
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Photo: Walter Klein

Directors of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

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. He has established an ambitious exhibition programme. Beginning in 2009, Marion Ackermann has served as director until 2016 for K20, K21 and the Schmela Haus. One of her main focusses was the extension of educational programmes. Susanne Gaensheimer is director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen from September, 2017.



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.