Our Museum Has Moved!
In 2017 the museum venue in Zeughausstrasse suffered water damage, leading to the evacuation and dismantling of our permanent exhibition. Because of the bleak condition of the historical armoury, the circumstances meant we were unable to reopen the permanent collection in our old venue.
Consequently, Cologne’s town council decided that our museum was to move into the former Franz Sauer department store in Minoritenstrasse.
This is a stop-gap venue before the opening of the Historische Mitte (Historic Center): a joint building ensemble comprising the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, the Römisch-Germanisches Museum and the Hohe Domkirche on Roncalliplatz (opening mid-2029).
Formerly a Luxurious Fashion Store
Our museum has now found an unusual new home in the former Franz Sauer department store, located in the heart of the city. This move gives us the opportunity to revamp the entire museum concept and develop an innovative and unusual permanent exhibition!
The department store with its five storeys dates back to 1986 and was built for the long-standing family business Franz Sauer, based on a design by the architect Ulrich Coersmeier. Until the business closed in 2016, the building was among the most important addresses in Cologne for upmarket, exclusive – and expensive – womenswear and menswear and was well-known far beyond the city limits.
It was not just the range of products that was defined by luxury and elegance: the architecture and the interior design were characterised by an elegant natural stone façade, generous marble floors, and a sweeping spiral staircase with gleaming brass banisters and refined, spacious (!) changing rooms in dark solid wood.
Transition into a Modern Museum
The fashion store’s transition into an innovative, modern museum began in 2021. In order to use the former sales area for museum purposes, many changes have had to be made. First, the original interior was removed, after which the lighting was changed. Then the museum exhibits could be brought in and – importantly – the air-conditioning system could be fitted. One aspect that has been particularly key during the whole planning and implementation process has been making the space as accessible as possible in order to enable a fulfilling museum experience for everyone, including people in a wheelchair or those who are visually impaired.
The unique layout of the fashion store creates exciting challenges for us as a museum. “We are using innovative techniques and atmospheric lighting concepts within our intertwining exhibition floors to create demarcated spaces that allow visitors to focus on the individual topics. At the same time we are using the many possible sight lines to create topical bridges between the exhibition areas,” explains the museum’s deputy director Silvia Rückert.
Colourful and Attractive: The Kolumba Quarter
At its new venue, the museum is a mere stone’s throw from the two main pedestrian streets – Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse. It also is just a short walk to Cologne Cathedral.
Together with the neighbouring MAKK Museum für Angewandte Kunst and the Kolumba, the art museum of the archdiocese of Cologne, we will soon be our own museum quarter.
In the museum’s immediate vicinity there are interesting shops, such as for interior design and high-end fashion, as well as cafés and restaurants inviting visitors to stop and relax (e.g. the well-known Espresso Perfetto or the Sattgrün restaurant).