Want to travel and head to the western part of Germany? Cologne is a fascinating town blessed with natural wonders, picturesque sceneries, a vibrant atmosphere, and various fun things to do! There are also many attractions and museums in Cologne that should not be missed!
Cologne is a stunning destination in Germany that provides a great indoor and outdoor travel adventure. A massive collection of historical artifacts, cultural and art objects, and documents can easily be discovered in this charming town’s museums.
There many museums and galleries across the city that preserve and showcases a variety of exciting things to find. Visiting the 17 best museums in Cologne will let you discover such masterpieces and learn more about the city.
Table of Contents
- List of the best museums in Cologne
- Museum Ludwig
- Wallraf-Richartz Museum
- Museum of Applied Art Cologne
- Roman-Germanic Museum
- Käthe Kollwitz Museum
- Deutsches Sport & Olympia Museum
- Museum for East-Asian Arts
- Cologne Chocolate Museum
- Kölnisches Stadtmuseum
- Duftmuseum im Farina Haus
- EL-DE Haus
- Cologne Archeological Zone
- Dom Treasury
- Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum
- Wine Museum Cologne
List of the best museums in Cologne
Address: Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Museum Ludwig was established in the year 1976, first as a private institution from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. It is situated in Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Köln in Cologne, Germany.
The museum is devoted to the display of modern art. Such art forms include Pop Art, Abstract, and Surrealism. There are also works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein on display in the museum.
Cologne city decided to construct a dedicated “Museum Ludwig” to store up works crafted after the year 1900 after Peter Ludwig, a chocolate magnate, gifted about three hundred and fifty modern artworks.
The building where the museum is housed today was constructed or designed by Peter Busmann and Godfrid Haberer, who were both architects, and in the year 1986, it officially was opened. The museum stands very close to the Cologne Cathedral.
Two museums (that is, the Wallraf Richartz Museum and the Museum Ludwig) used the same building until 1994, when they were both separated, placing the building on Bischofsgartenstrasse at Museum Ludwig’s sole disposal. Collections in the museum include the collection of Josef Haubrich, a lawyer whose collections came through from 1914 to 1939.
Haubrich donated his Expressionism collection to the city immediately after the Second World War came to an end. Other collections include collections by Picasso, collections by Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene, etc.
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Address: Obenmarspforten 40, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Wallraf–Richartz Museum, fully known as Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud (in German), is one of the three key museums in Cologne, Germany. More precisely, the museum is located in Obenmarspforten 40, 50667 Köln, Germany.
In the museum is an art gallery displaying a collection of medieval to early 20th century fine arts. The museum was established in the year 1871. Much more later, the museum traces its origin back down to 1824, during the period when Franz Ferdinand Wallraf’s collection of medieval arts was brought to Cologne by inheritance.
The first building that housed the museum was a donation from Johann Heinrich Richartz before his death. The current structure housing the museum was constructed in the year 2001 based on a design by Oswald Mathias Ungers.
Before now, some donations had been made towards improving the museum’s collections, most notably that of Mr. and Mrs. Ludwig in 1976, which overtook the twentieth-century art exhibitions. A permanent loan of some other collections came on in 2001.
Gerard Corboud, a Swiss collector, made this permanent loan. He’d given out more than one hundred and seventy works of his impressionist and postimpressionist collections. This instituted Fondation Corboud into the name of the museum: “Corboud,” to honored Gerard Corboud.
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Museum of Applied Art Cologne
Address: An der Rechtschule 7, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Museum of Applied Art Cologne, also known in German as the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, abbreviated as MAKK, is a decorative arts museum located in Cologne, Germany.
The museum was established in the year 1888, and it wasn’t up until 1987 did it stop being addressed as Kunstgewerbemuseum, which means Decorative Art Museum in German. The basis of collections exhibited in the museum originated from Ferdinand Franz Wallraf’s collections and those of Joseph de Noel.
Over the years, the exhibitions expanded using endowments. The building that originally housed the museum, a Neo-Gothic building on Hansaring, was destroyed in the year 1943 during the Second World War.
In 1989, the museum relocated to An der Rechtschule, where it is permanently housed in a building formerly owned by Wallrad Richartz, built by Rudolf Schwarz and Josef Bernhard in the middle 1900s. There are over one hundred thousand items exhibited in the museum.
These items are exhibits from applied art of Europe, originating from the tenth century up until now.
This collection is arranged chronologically by the era in the museum, and the items involved include furniture, small sculptures, decorative carpets, and other forms of decorative objects. Collections also include porcelain, weaponry, jewelry, and architectural exhibits.
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Address: Roncalliplatz 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Roman-Germanic Museum, RGM for short, and Römisch-Germanisches Museum (in German) are archaeology museums situated in Cologne, Germany. The museum was established in the year 1946 and went into its current building in the year 1974.
The museum represents a wide range of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, upon which the new Cologne is built.
The museum is an archaeological site in that it secures the original site of a town villa in Rome, where there are big mosaic remains of Dionysus, planted in the basement, with the other Roman Road outside. Also, there is the sepulcher of Poblicius (about A.D. 40), reconstructed in the museum.
In the museum is a great number of extensive Roman glass collections exhibited from funerals and burials. The Roman-Germanic Museum inclusively tries to portray the Roman cultural heritage of Cologne. Initially, the museum collections were housed in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne till the year 1946.
The museum houses the largest locally produced glassware portraits ever found in any museum, dating back to the Roman period. Cyclone Kyrill blew a sheet of plywood on a January night in 2007, and as a consequence of his action, damages were done to the Dionysus mosaic. Within a week, however, this damage was fixed.
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Käthe Kollwitz Museum
Address: Neumarkt 18-24, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Käthe Kollwitz Museum Neumarkt is one situated in Neumarkt 18-24, 50667 Köln, Germany. It is known to be the museum with the largest collections of exhibits by Käthe Kollwitz, a German artist born in 1867 and died in 1945. Käthe Kollwitz happens to be the number one woman in history to be elected into the Prussian Academy of Arts.
Her works, even though the earlier ones portrayed real-life illustrations, have been associated with Expressionism. The museum named after her is owned and ran by the savings bank Kreissparkasse Koln.
The Käthe Kollwitz Museum was established on the 22nd April 1985 during an event that showcased the Käthe Kollwitz Collection of the Kreissparkasse Köln, which was the same day the Käthe Kollwitz’s death marked forty years. The museum is housed on the top floor, a structure designed by Hans Schilling, the Cologne Neumarkt shopping arcade.
Collections began in 1976 when the museum’s bank acquired about two of the artist’s lithographs. These lithographs were joined with 60 drawings that the Kollwitz family had acquired in 1983, and the museum was set to begin displaying its exhibits. In the museum also is a section of the specialist library for academic researches.
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Address: Cäcilienstraße 29-33, 50676 Köln, Germany
The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum is an ethnographic museum resident in Cologne, Germany. An ethnographic museum displays as its exhibits ethnographic works. Being shut down for some years, the museum reopened to the public in 2010.
The foundation of the museum collections emanated from over three thousand five hundred ethnographic items belonging to Wilhelm Joest. Hence his name was incorporated into the title of the museum. Wilhelm Joest used to be an ethnographer before his death.
His collections had been left to Adele Rautenstrauch (Joest’s sister) after his death in 1897. For the record, the museum returned a tattooed skull of Maori, which had been in its possession for a period of a decade and ten years, to a delegate of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa situated in Wellington.
The skill of Maori in question was bought by Willy Foy, a London dealer who was the first director of the Raustenstrauch Joest-Museum in the year 1908. The museum, up until now, permits for the admission of visitors, who can come into it for different purposes: for recreational purposes, for academic purposes, for sightseeing, etc.
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Address: Kolumbastraße 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Kolumba is a museum of arts located in Kolumbastraße 4, 50667 Köln, Germany.
The Society for Christian Arts founded the museum in the year 1853, and by the year 1989, there was a change in administrative power to the Archdiocese of Cologne. Formerly, the museum used to be known as Diözesanmuseum, which is German for Diocesan Museum.
The structure where the museum is currently housed was based on the design by Peter Zumthor and was inaugurated in 2007 by Joachim Meisner.
Initially, the site used to be the spot for the Church of St. Kolumba, before it was destroyed in the 1940s during the Second World War and restructured in 1950 by the chapel nicknamed Madonna of the Ruins. There are sixteen rooms for exhibitions in the museum, where quality artworks are displayed.
These exhibitions come in the form of light gray brick walls and clay plaster, casings, and fittings of steel, Jura limestone floors, terrazzo, mortar, poured mortar shell ceilings, furniture, textiles and leather, curtains of leather and silk, etc.
Other collections are drawings, paintings, sculptures, religious icons, and decorative art. Highlights of these other collections are made of the collection of rosaries, Leiko Ikemura’s works, Madonna with the Violet, the ivory crucifix of the 12th century in romanesque Rhenish or Mosan style.
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Deutsches Sport & Olympia Museum
Address: Im Zollhafen 1, 50678 Köln, Germany
The Deutsches Sport and Olympia Museum is a sports museum situated in Im Zollhafen 1, 50678 Köln, Germany. It is also referred to as the German Sport and Olympic Museum. The museum stands in the heart of Cologne and represents the sports world with a varying number of artifacts and items.
The building in which the museum is occupied is a historical building, dating down to have been built so many years before. Some of the artifacts and collections exhibited in the museum date to have been in existence for over two thousand years.
For some, it is as long as the Olympic history of Germany has lasted, including ancient Greek athletics exhibits. The Deutsches Sport and Olympia Museum’s special exhibitions try to represent both historical and contemporary sports themes.
A wide range of sporting activities may be performed in the museum, including other activities such as multifaceted tours. The museum gives room for an education section, where visitors are taught about sporting facilities of the aged time, and so on. The museum is equally used to host several events relating to sports and the Olympics.
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Museum for East-Asian Arts
Address: Universitätsstraße 100, 50674 Köln, Germany
The Museum for East-Asian Arts is a museum of arts situated in Universitätsstraße 100, 50674 Köln, Germany. The museum was created in the year 1913. In German, it is known as Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln. It happens to be the oldest and first specialist museum of its kind in the entire country.
The focus of the Museum for East-Asian Arts is to display exhibits of Asian arts. Such collections in the museum include those from China, Kora, and Japan.
The key founder of these collections was Adolf Fischer (de) and Frieda (de), his wife. The current structure in which the museum finds a home was constructed based on an architectural design by Kunio Maekawa, Le Corbusier’s student, in the year 1977. The outbreak of the Second World War posed several destructions to the museum.
A total of seven hundred and sixty items were lost at the time. The museum’s current director, Adele Schlombs, had succeeded in getting Chinese and Japanese calligraphy collections assembled by Heinz Gotze, who was the academic publisher of Heidelberg.
Some of the exhibits in the museum include Chinese: ceremonial AX, poems, and reply poems, begging bard with a greyhound, printed albums, Buddhist Guardian Deity; Japanese: Buddhist wood sculpture, hanging scroll, twentieth-century painting, go=ion folding screen; Korean: shoulder bottle, water, and moon gwaneum, etc.
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Cologne Chocolate Museum
Address: Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, 50676 Köln, Germany
The Cologne Chocolate Museum is a chocolate museum located in Cologne, Germany. More precisely, the museum stands in Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, 50676 Köln, Germany. The museum is near the Cathedral of Cologne, in Rheinau harbor.
The place where the museum sits was once the territorial (during the medieval times) for the Cologne’s anchor and terminals, near the Rhine boatmen. The old sing bridge currently has been renovated to meet up the new harbor quarter of the Rheinauhafen.
Attractions to the museum start with large models of coca trees and a very high (about ten meters high) tropical greenhouse. Visitors to the museum get the chance to learn practically the processes involved in planting, harvesting, and processing cocoa.
This knowledge lengthens evenly to observe how these cocoa products are distributed worldwide through the stock exchange markets.
Visitors inclusively get the chance to journey through thousands of years of cocoa history, including getting to know of the ceremonies and festivals under which cocoa is a pushing force. Chances are equally let to gain knowledge of the production of cocoa beverages and wine.
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Address: Zeughausstraße 1-3, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, translated in English to mean The Cologne City Museum, is a historical museum situated in Zeughausstraße 1-3, 50667 Köln, Germany. The building occupied by the museum is a historic armory near the Prussian Old Guard Armory.
Banana graffiti owned by Thomas Baumgartel are displayed in the museum. Baumgartel’s collections featured in the Kolnisches Stadtmuseum are about three hundred and fifty thousand items.
Exhibits range from collections of the Middle Ages down to the present day. Exhibits include textiles, coins, furniture, graphics, the seal of the city from 1268, militaria, paintings, etc. There is usually a regular permanent exhibition presented in the Alte Wache.
The Kölnisches Stadtmuseum have actually lived through many names and buildings within the city. It is believed that even the current location of the museum would be changed soon for a new building in the “historic center.” The museum first started in Hahnentorburg in the year 1900.
The history museum was founded in the year 1888 after renovations had just been completed on the Hahnentorburg building, out of the need for the city to own a historical museum of its own. The second location the museum took over was the Eigelsteintorburg, around the year 1896.
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Duftmuseum im Farina Haus
Address: Obenmarspforten 21, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Duftmuseum im Farina Haus (English: The Fragrance Museum in the Farina House) is a museum locate in Obenmarspforten Koln, Germany. It is situated close to the Cologne City Hall and faces the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which is also situated in Cologne.
The Fragrance Museum in the Farina House keeps a record of perfumes of very long years ago. Johann Maria Farina, the world’s oldest known perfume factory established in the year 1709 still in existence up until today, was once the occupier of the building that later became the museum’s abode in Obenmarspforten.
Exhibited or displayed in the museum are photos and documents of the perfume products and their plagiarism attempts during the period from the factory first came into existence up until the current age. Furthermore are exhibits that display perfume production’s developmental stages and its marketing channels through a glass showcase.
During the two hundred and fortieth death anniversary of Johann Maria Farina, the owner of the perfume factory who had inspired the museum creation, the Farina House was honored as a Selection Location among the list in the Federal President’s project. Other exhibits or collections include 1723 desks, showcases, etc.
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Address: Appellhofpl. 23-25, 50667 Köln, Germany
The El-DE Haus is a museum situated in in Appellhofpl, Germany. Officially, the museum is known as the NS Documentation Center of the City of Cologne.
The location where the museum is situated used to be Gestapo’s headquarters. Before this, the building first served as sales or business premises for Leopold Dahmen, a jeweler before it was rented from him in 1934 by the Nazis, who turned it into the Gestapo’s headquarters.
Gestapo, as at the time was a secret police unit. The museum documents the Third Reich. Even when ninety percent of the entire building was destroyed during the Second World War, it is surprising that the building did not suffer any damage due to the war in any way.
When the war came to a close, the prison cells and torture rooms where political enemies and forced laborers were treated according were used as storerooms for wartime paperwork and files.
Many execution courses and deaths as a result of poor hygienic conditions occurred in the building. Up until now, inscriptions made by the prison inmates are still present on the walls of the cells. The museum won the Best in Heritage awards in 2006, making it the second museum in Germany to have won such.
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Cologne Archeological Zone
Address: Obenmarspforten 1, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Cologne Archeological Zone is a museum located in Obenmarspforten 1, 50667 Köln, Germany. Represented in this museum is the history of Rome and Germany. Such representations come in the form of Praetorium (the governor’s palace) and the Roman sewer.
A mikyeh, the Jewish bath ritual of the Middle Ages, is also represented in the Cologne Archeological Zone museum. For a very long period of time, the museum functioned as the most vital community for the Jews in Germany.
The new museum is actually still under construction, and when the construction is rounded, it will incorporate all these sites into it. It will occupy a space of land measuring about seven thousand square meters.
This occurs to be the most remarkable cultural project the city of Cologne has ever embarked upon. In the original sites, visitors will be able to see monuments aging for about two millennia. Here, in the new building, will be the cosmopolitan center for the history of Cologne.
Such will vary from the impressive ruins imposed on the governor’s palace of Rome to what is left of one of Europe’s most important quarters for the Jews.
A top scientific board was created in 2007, which is assigned with the responsibility of assembling different times per annum to discuss the project. This was headed by the Mayor of Cologne, who served as chairman of the board.
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Address: Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
The Dom Treasury is located in Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany. It is right inside the Cologne Cathedral. Dom Treasury’s geographical setting is nearest to Dom Banof station. It is the biggest and probably the richest in entire Germany.
The Dom Treasury was initially build to keep collections of relics. These relics can still be seen in the Middle Ages section of the treasury, where real, costly, artistic treasures of great value are kept. The objects exhibited, however, are still in ecclesiastical use.
The place has had a whopping positive review by visitors, describing it as beautiful, stunning, gracious, a good experience, etc. Its architectural structure has been praised for being a masterpiece as well.
The place is a wonder; how much higher can human genius reach? The Dom Treasury is full of incredible works of art and treasure in itself. One can sight or witness the Sunday Mass taking place on a grand scale from the Dom Treasury. The building is ancient and had survived both the First and Second World Wars.
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Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum
Address: Longericher Str. 214, 50739 Köln, Germany
The Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum is a railway museum located in Longericher Str. 214, 50739 Köln, Germany. The museum was established in the year 1987. The museum’s focus is on preserving the long history of industrial rail vehicles.
The museum equally provides research opportunities and documentation of their history. Amazingly, the Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum consists of about seventy locomotives of different gauge which were formerly in use in different industries.
This makes the museum the one with the largest collection among museums of its kind in the entirety of Germany. Primarily, the locomotives on display in the museum are the Deutz locomotives manufactured in Cologne and those from Arnold Jung’s locomotive factory.
The ground in which the museum is now situated used to be a train station closed in 1975 by the then German Federal Railroad. Over the years of the Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum’s stay in the space, it has expanded its look. The Rhenish Industrial Railway Museum took over the track systems that Deutsche Bahn owned in 2001.
The museum is run by the Eisenbahn Museum Köln eV. The museum is open to visitors interested in viewing its exhibits only once a month on a Sunday.
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Wine Museum Cologne
Address: Amsterdamer Str. 1, 50668 Köln, Germany
The Wine Museum Cologne is a beverage and wine museum located in Amsterdamer Str. 1, 50668 Köln, Germany. Historically, wine has been part of man’s greatest achievements. Wines of different kinds represent different cultures and are offered (in some cultures) to different gods.
Basically, in all traditions, there is a god or gods that stand for wine and drinks. The Wine Museum Cologne offers visitors the opportunity to walk on the path blessed by great Roman and Greek gods with the knowledge of the production of wine.
The museum’s focus is to provide visitors or researchers who care to learn comprehensive knowledge of the science of wine known as enology.
The indoor areas of the museum feature such concepts that illustrate the steps involved in the growth of the wine, cellar technology, and wine development, a collection of the wines available in the world, and the basic facts to know about them.
The wine museum gives one a feeling and taste and knowledge of what wines consumed in years, decades, centuries past is like.