Exhibitions in the Ruhr Museum: Beuys, Bytes and Blaues Blut

Essen: Ruhr Museum is celebrating Joseph Beuys in 2021 and showing a photo show on the German-Turkish recruitment agreement. The nobility on the Rhine and Ruhr is also an issue

The year 2020 began with a bang at Zollverein: Thousands of people flocked to the World Heritage Site on January 12th to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Ruhr Museum and at the same time ten years of the cultural capital with well-known well-wishers such as Stoppok and the television mouse. After the 2.5 millionth visitor, a very special guest of honor was welcomed shortly afterwards: On January 21st, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the spectacular “Survivors” show with pictures of Holocaust survivors at the Zollverein coking plant.

In 2020, the Essen World Heritage Site would probably have set a new visitor record – had the corona pandemic not thrown many plans overboard. Exhibitions such as “Childhood in the Ruhr Area” and the big anniversary show for the “Metropole Ruhr” could only start late and have had to pause again since the second lockdown. According to the Ruhr Museum Director Theodor Grütter, the exhibition halls were closed for almost a third of the year, and guided tours could not be offered at all or only with a reduced number of participants. With around 150,000 visitors to the Ruhr Museum and 50,000 Monument Path guests, Zollverein 2020 remains well below the previous year’s figures.

Photo show shows how immigration has changed Germany

In 2021, however, the offer is to be increased significantly again, even if the events are still suspended in the next few weeks due to Corona. But preparations for the large public shows that will focus on special anniversaries in 2021 have long been underway. The exhibition “We are from here” with photographs by Ergun Cagatay commemorates the 60th anniversary of the signing of the German-Turkish recruitment agreement (1961). The exhibition aims to show how this immigration has changed Germany. In 1990 Cagatay visited his compatriots in Cologne, Aachen, Werl, Berlin, Duisburg and Hamburg and photographed people of Turkish origin of all ages in individual and group portraits, looked into mosques and living rooms, into factories and a colliery.

The traveling exhibition (June to October 2021) can still be seen in several German cities and in Turkey. The extensive accompanying program includes lectures, readings, school and district projects. There will also be a gallery show with “Pictures of Turkish Migration” by the Essen photographer and ethnologist Henning Christoph.

What connects Joseph Beuys and the Ruhr area

And the great visionary and action artist Joseph Beuys is also present in the Ruhr area on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Beuys’ connection to the Ruhr area is examined above all in connection with the establishment of the two branches of his “Free International University” in Gelsenkirchen and Essen. The director of the Ruhr Museum says that the “political Beuys” will be the main experience at Zollverein. Beuys’ commitment to democracy and ecology was trend-setting and is now being re-examined in the context of current debates about social coexistence and the relationship between people and nature With the Beuys project “The Invisible Sculpture” (May 10th – September 26th, 2021), a new exhibition space will open in May. Hall 8, which has only been used sporadically, will open as an art gallery.

It shouldn’t be the only grand opening in 2021. After extensive renovation work and with some structural delays, the converted salt factory can finally open as a new display depot in March. Thousands and thousands of archeology, mineralogy and geology collection objects will be housed there and the World Heritage site will be expanded to include another spectacular offering.

Zeche Zollverein becomes a location for digital art

But the program is not only characterized by a look into the past. From 2021, Zollverein also wants to present itself as a future location for digital art, explains Theodor Grütter. From July to September a large digital festival “The New Now” will be organized on the world heritage site.

Nobility show in Essen: splendid loans from castles and museums

The fact that Zollverein does not only stand for industrial culture, but also spans a wide historical arc, is shown by the exhibition “In a class of its own: Nobility on the Rhine and Ruhr”. It is not about the “chimney barons”, the factory owners and industrialists, but about the princes, dukes and landgraves of the pre-industrial era – their architectural relics such as Landsberg Castle or Altena Castle, their power and their political self-image, but also about their festivals, court culture and the fascination for the representatives of blue blood, which is still widespread today. Grütter promises glamorous loans from castles and museums, including magnificent armor from Vienna and valuable furniture.

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