Kunstsammlung NRW
Das Foyer ermöglicht großzügige Durchblicke, Foto: Hanna Neander

Open! A Visit to the Reopened LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster

Offen! (Open!): in late summer, this word – in pale, plain lettering – seemed almost to shout from a range of print media, from posters in train stations, advertisements, and of course on the Internet as well. After five years of renovations, the LWL Museum for Art and Culture finally reopening.

Alissa Krusch had a look around both real museum galleries and virtual spaces for #32.

Entering the building on Cathedral Square in Münster, visitors find themselves in a strikingly spacious entry foyer. The gaze wanders into the far distance, feeling its way past the angular staircases that ascend into the heights, along the balcony-style incisions in the upper stories, before finding itself drawn inescapably upward, toward the light-flooded ceiling of the large atrium. Spread out in front of you, completely open, is the centerpiece of the new facility. Set back discreetly, but also contained in the entrance area, are the library, museum shop, and café.

An Open Museum

The team of Staab Architekten Berlin, which is responsible for the new building, devised an entry situation whose cutting edge functionality is reminiscent of the new building for the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. Particularly striking is their idea of an “architecture of courtyards,” which invites visitors to stroll at their leisure even before passing through the ticket counter. The spacious foyer is more or less mirrored in the alignment of the rearward section of the building; adjacent to it is an open patio with equally spacious dimensions. Projected there onto a white wall high above the heads of museum visitors, especially for the reopening, is a video work by Pipilotti Rist.

Now, visitors stream from both sides into the museum, whose new building opens itself up to the city. Arriving to have a look during the first “open” weekend in late September alone were 35,000 people.

Communicative Openness As Well

With regard to communication too, the museum is characterized by its emphatic openness. It is no mean task, meanwhile, for a large public building at the heart of the city to bridge the temporal gap occasioned by a multiyear period of closure. The K20, the Kunstsammlung am Grabbeplatz as well was closed to the public for a period of two years, from 2008 to 2010. With great self-assurance, our colleagues in Münster – especially during the final months – used various channels, exploiting the opportunities presented by digital communication to offer revealing views that would otherwise have remained concealed. Via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as a blog launched as early as December of 2012, friends of the museum had access to photo series of the building site, interviews with architects and designers, an inside look at the activities of museum staff, and much more.

The Virtual Museum 24/7

As early as 2010, the Landesmuseum embarked upon a path seldom encountered in the museum world, namely the three-year project Museum 24/7. Created during the period of closure in collaboration between the LWL and the University of Münster (Institute for Business Informatics, Research Group on Communication and Collaboration Management) was a virtual museum.

In 10 virtual spaces, the Museum 24/7 brings together aspects of conventional online collections (close-up illustration, art-historical references, explanatory texts on individual works) with interactive elements. Whether you are exploring the museum’s memory, trying out your own hanging, or getting creative in space with informell painting, the collection remains the consistent point of reference.

The question of whether this virtual space would have a future after the reopening, and of potential possibilities for optimization, was a topic of discussion, for example at a blogger’s conference that took place in Münster in springtime. It should be fascinating to see how the newly reopened museum comes to an understanding with its virtual sibling!


At the Kunstsammlung, Alissa Krusch is consistently involved in all things commonly referred to as “digital.” From Düsseldorf, she has been following the activities of her Westphalian museum colleagues with the keenest interest. Despite being offered 24/7 access to the art, she could simply not resist an “actual” museum visit in the “real” Münster, with a tour through the newly designed display of the permanent collection, which takes up 51 rooms and encompasses approximately 1200 objects – she was rewarded with openness!