Kaiser Wilhelm Museum

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, main entrance, on the east side, 1897, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, main entrance, on the east side, 1897, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2017, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2017, Photo: Volker Döhne

1897 Foundation

The foundation for the Kunstmuseen Krefeld was laid in 1897 with the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Karlsplatz.

It soon developed into one of the most progressive institutes active in the field of design, applied art and architecture. Exemplary posters, pottery, Japanese woodcuts and articles of daily use, for example, were presented with the goal of influencing stylistic currents and promoting a new sense of “good taste”.

Karlsplatz, Krefeld, Postkarte 1882, Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Karlsplatz, Krefeld, Postkarte 1882, Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, south-east-side, postcard, about 1897, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, south-east-side, postcard, about 1897, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Nord-Ost-Seite, 1897  
Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Nord-Ost-Seite, 1897
Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Foto: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, hallway, inside, 1966, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, hallway, inside, 1966, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Treppenanlage, Innen, 1898  Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Treppenanlage, Innen, 1898 Archiv Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Statur Kaiser Wilhelms I. von Gustav Heinrich Eberlein (1847–1926)  
Nordseite des Kaiser Wilhelm Museums, nach 1979, Foto: Volker Döhne
Statur Kaiser Wilhelms I. von Gustav Heinrich Eberlein (1847–1926)
Nordseite des Kaiser Wilhelm Museums, nach 1979, Foto: Volker Döhne
Friedrich Deneken (1857-1927), first director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Friedrich Deneken (1857-1927), first director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Poster for the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum by Alfred Mohrbutter, 1897, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Poster for the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum by Alfred Mohrbutter, 1897, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Sign KWM of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Drawing by Otto Eckmann, 1897, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Sign KWM of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Drawing by Otto Eckmann, 1897, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, second floor, exhibition of French art, 1907, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, second floor, exhibition of French art, 1907, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, reading room, main floor, ca. 1900  
Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, reading room, main floor, ca. 1900
Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, German Renaissance, main floor, ca. 1900, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, German Renaissance, main floor, ca. 1900, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne

1912 extension

An extension was already planned for the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum shortly after its opening due to the need for additional space. It was realized in 1912 with the erection of the south and north wings designed by Hugo Koch. The museum was closed in 1942 because of the Second World War, which the building survived unscathed. Sharing its spaces at first with municipal offices and institutions after 1945, the museum largely served as a fine arts museum at that time.

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, drawing by the architect Hugo Koch (1846-1921), Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, drawing by the architect Hugo Koch (1846-1921), Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, south-west-side, after 1912
Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, south-west-side, after 1912 Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Von der Leyen room, nach 1912  
Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Von der Leyen room, nach 1912
Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Post card by Peter Wolbrandt on the occasion of the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum's annex, 1912, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Post card by Peter Wolbrandt on the occasion of the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum’s annex, 1912, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne

1923 Johan Thorn Prikker

For the first time in almost 40 years, Johan Thorn Prikker’s (1868–1932) wall painting Lebensalter (The Ages of Life) with its depiction of the cycle of life is again on view on the second floor. The artist created the work in 1923 in a fresco-secco technique (on dry plaster) for this site.

Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), working on the wall painting „The Ages of Man“ (Childhood), in the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1923
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), working on the wall painting „The Ages of Man“ (Childhood), in the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1923
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, room with the wall painting „The Ages of Man“, Johann Thorn Prikker exhibition, 1932, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, room with the wall painting „The Ages of Man“, Johann Thorn Prikker exhibition, 1932, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Childhood), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Childhood), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Youth), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum
Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Youth), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Manhood), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum
Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Manhood), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Old Age), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum
Photo: Volker Döhne
Johann Thorn Prikker (1868-1932), „The Ages of Man“ (Old Age), 1923, wall painting, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Photo: Volker Döhne
Johan Thorn Prikker (1868–1932), wall decoration for the Dutch-Indian art exhibition, 1906, drawing, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne
Johan Thorn Prikker (1868–1932), wall decoration for the Dutch-Indian art exhibition, 1906, drawing, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Photo: Volker Döhne

1969 Modernization

Under its director Paul Wember, the museum was again closed in 1960 because of projected reconstruction work that would only commence in 1966 in accordance with the plans designed by the city’s director of buildings Heinrich Röhm. The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum opened its doors to the public again in 1968. The representative staircase in front of the building had to make way for a new street while the historic staircase inside was replaced by a lighter contemporary version. The statue of Emperor Wilhelm I is now located outside on the north side of the museum.

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, Collection, Pop Art and Minimal Art, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, Collection, Pop Art and Minimal Art, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, entrance area, 1969, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, entrance area, 1969, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper
Reopening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, opening speech Paul Wember (1913-1987), Director, Photo: K.-H. Lengwenigs
Reopening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, opening speech Paul Wember (1913-1987), Director, Photo: K.-H. Lengwenigs
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, main facade, east, 1971, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, main facade, east, 1971, Archive Kunstmuseen Krefeld
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, Baroque collection, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 1969, Baroque collection, Photo: Schambach & Pottkämper

The building today

From 2012 to 2016, the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum was renovated from top to bottom and refitted in keeping with international climate and safety standards. The historical substance was restored, reconstructed and rebuilt in keeping with landmark principles. As such, original construction elements from the time of the turn of the 20th century can now be encountered in the interior modern sequences and up-to-date technology.

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Foyer, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Foyer, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2nd Floor, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2nd Floor, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Hallway, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Hallway, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2nd Floor, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, 2nd Floor, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Hallway, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Hallway, 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, reopening April 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, reopening April 2016, Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum , 1st Floor,  
Photo: Volker Döhne
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum , 1st Floor,
Photo: Volker Döhne