Kolnisches Stadtmuseum

Cologne, Germany | C.1888

Photo Credit: Geli Klein

Within the historic city of Cologne, the Kolnisches Stadtmuseum, or Cologne City Museum, finds its home. The Museum focuses on the history of the city of Cologne, providing insight into the history, culture, economy and everyday life in the fourth most populated city in Germany.

The push for a historical museum was first introduced to Cologne by the director of the Cologne City Archives, Konstantin Höhlbaum. He expressed a need to have a space to preserve the past. By July 1888, the city council approved of a museum in the Hahnentorburg turret that had originally been a part of the former city wall. In 1902 another turret, the Eigelsteintorburg, was also used to house the growing collection. By 1926 it was proposed that the collection should move to the right side of the Rhine in the former barracks of the Deutzer Cuirassiers, however those plans were never finalized.

The permanent collection final found a forever home in 1958, when the extensive assortment of items were exhibited in the old armory known as Zeughaus. The building is one of the oldest buildings in Cologne, built in a period of 12 years between 1594 and 1606. A fire broke out on the roof in 1983, leaving minimal damages to the collection. However, the Museum had difficulties raising donations, and stayed closed for five years.

A special feature of the current building is the golden “Flugelauto (“winged car”) on the roof of the Zeughaus tower, which was installed in 1991 by German artist HA Schult. Government officials demanded the removal of the installation with reference to a preservation order of the building. However, the ministry tolerated a “temporary” showcasing of the piece that is still installed to this day.

The focal points of the museum’s permanent collection are the history of Cologne from the Middle Ages to the recent past. Unusual artifacts bring to light the political, economic, cultural and religious development of the city. The exhibits are thematically structured at the beginning of the tour, and progress further into the past as visitors continue their exploration. Today the museum averages about 70,000 visitors per year and continues to serve as the leading historian for Cologne’s history.

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