Cologne may merely be Germany’s fourth largest city, but it punches notches above its own weight in terms of artistic culture, what with nearly 40 museums and over 100 galleries. The eclectic and world-class offerings in various artistic disciplines ensures it shrugs off comparison with Berlin with flair and confidence built through the years. With a history that includes hosting the world’s oldest fair for modern and contemporary art having from 1967 and being the adopted homes of prominent artists such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, there can be no doubt anymore when connoisseurs and collectors alike hail this the spiritual home of German art.
wee black book : COLOGNE EDITION
TOKYO WEE BLACK BOOK
The year Ludwig Museum was founded (in 1986) was also the year the art world sat up to etch Cologne on the list of important art destinations of the world, so we suspect there is no need for us to further elaborate how seminally important this museum is to Cologne. It houses the main positions and trends in modern and contemporary art from the break of the 20th century up to the present, and perhaps of particular note is that it also holds the largest pop-art collection outside of the U.S.
WALLRAF-RICHARTZ-MUSEUM & FONDATION CORBOUD
The bequeath of Franz Ferdinand Wallraf of his entire art collection to the city of Cologne in 1824, laid the foundation for Cologne’s first art museum. Since 2001, it has been housed in a new building designed by Cologne’s homegrown star architect Oswald Mathias Ungers, and is growing from strength to strength with its collection spanning 700 years of art history, including one of the most significant collections of medieval paintings in the world. The addition of one of the widest collection of impressionist and neo-impressionist art in Germany from the Fondation Corboud seals the must-visit decision.
Breaking the confines of a traditional museum or gallery, the Skulpturenpark Köln or as you probably guessed it, the Cologne Sculpture Park, displays a diverse collection of contemporary international sculpture. KölnSkulptur is its own biennial series of exhibitions, initiated by the park’s founders, Dr. Michael and Eleonore Stoffel, aims to celebrate a liberating take on showing world-class sculptures in a beautifully-manicured green slice of Cologne. The biennal incidentally celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019 with it largest (9th) edition.
Housed in the 18th-century Schloss Bensberg and still close enough to downtown Cologne for it to provide gorgeous views of the Dom and cityline as its backdrop, is this luxurious fine-dining spot helmed by Joachim Wissler as executive chef. Aim for the seasonal tasting menu to appreciate why critics hail Wissler as the vanguard of New German cuisine.
OX & KLEE
Located in the middle of the three crane houses, the Ox & Klee’s ultramodern interior design is in lock-step with the modern architecture of Cologne’s new landmarks. Punchy, creative and fresh take on modern degustation, this ingenue of a restaurant gives the older names in town a good run for their money.
The undisputed king of Cologne’s breweries is where you head to for your pilgrimage of quality German micro-brews and mouth-watering renditions of German culinary specialties. You will certainly stay for an extra Liter with the magnificent setting of painted glass ceilings and mahogany furniture.
S N O O Z E
EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNST
Drawing on a history that predates Germany’s nationhood, this grande dame is a national treasure ever since it opened in 1863. Apart from its enviable location of being situated right next to Germany’s most visited attraction and the largest gothic church in northern Europe, the Cologne Cathedral, the art and furnishings of the hotel make you feel like a right-at-home aristocrat, some of whom who did trod these corridors now stare down from oil paintings.
A lesson in transporting design authoritativeness from print to property is The Qvest, which is Qvest magazine’s owner, Michael Kaune’s passion project to put all the years in the promulgation of the best in design into a hotel. Once housing Cologne’s city archives in a 19th-century building with pointed, neo-gothic arches, stone columns and clover-shaped mullioned windows, this furthers the building’s quest in chronicling Cologne’s artistic development, this time from a neo-modern and Bauhaus perspective.
HOTEL IM WASSERTURM
The name of the hotel leaves nothing to the imagination- it really is a ‘hotel in the water tower’. You won’t find a more gorgeously decked-out water tower anywhere though, as André Putman lends his magical touch and transforms this 19th-century brick cake-shaped water tower (once Europe’s biggest) into a sleek luxury boutique hotel, topped off with a roof terrace that delivers some of Cologne’s best panoramic vistas.