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“Very Interesting Building But with Reservations”
Review of Kolumba

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Cologne Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and Rhine River Sightseeing Cruise
Ranked #28 of 268 things to do in Cologne
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed August 13, 2014

The Kolumba is a highly specialized, indeed a conceptual, museum just outside the very center of Cologne. Designed by the noted Swiss architect, Peter Zumthor, I have to say that my reaction to the Kolumba is no doubt tainted by Zumthor's initial design for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) which was howled at by critics, as if they were wolves, for its mis-reading of the city and its context. Fortunately, Zumthor has changed that design to one that is more appropriate, if expensive to build.

But trying to keep an open mind, I have to acknowledge that the Kolumba has some very good features. Its use and, indeed, resurrection of a ruined church to create a new modern museum is strikingly interesting. But I think it's also important to describe accurately what it is, which is that the museum is more of a conceptual artwork itself than a flexible building for showing art. Just as the architectural idea was to combine the old and new, so is the display of art idea to combine the old and new. This goes only so far before it becomes tedious.

Then, there are the minor problems with the building. For a while, we became paranoid and thought that the many museum guards were following us around. But then, we realized that they were in fact warning us not to trip before we stepped into each next room that there was a half-step level change. Isn't the architect or contractor supposed to know that steps are to be of a certain height to keep this from happening? Fortunately, the number of visitors to the Kolumba, based upon what I observed during my visit, is low so the guards can pick each new one out and play, as we say in basketball, man-to-man defense.

Now, I don't want to completely bash this place. As noted earlier, it is original and certainly deserves a visit. But it does stir the question: should a museum be more a showcase for the architect than a showcase for the art? Truly, since the Wright's Guggenheim in NYC that question has gone unanswered.

3  Thank GEDLosAngeles_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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54 - 58 of 223 reviews

Reviewed July 5, 2014

The cathedral was badly damaged and renovated in modern way but still respect the traditional and old structure. Great design really.

Thank Keng76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2014

Passing through Cologne and noticed this impressive building and had yo pay a visit. It's located on the site of the Colomba church and is an architectural wonder. The current exhibition is show cover hide. Shrine

They have museum guides in English. It's €5 to enter. Really enjoyed both the art work and the rooms they're displayed in. Not cluttered with excellent lighting. Definitely worth a visit along for the building but add a nice exhibition and it's awesome.

Thank Russell P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 27, 2014

We would have missed this gem had we not arrived in town for a one day stay and found it to be the only museum open in the city, and even then it was not crowded. We spent about two and a half hours and could have stayed longer.

It is not your conventional museum. You have to enjoy intriguing and often hauntingly beautiful and mysterious architectural spaces, punctuated by glimpses of bright cityscapes through large windows; quiet spaces for pausing and reflection; strange juxtapositions of new and old. It is disquieting, a place of beauty haunted by ghosts of destruction. This year's exhibit is provocative, interesting and beautiful. Go slow, find places to sit and meditate.

If you like the Biennale in Venice, you will enjoy wandering this space. The world looks just a little different when you leave. We were happy we came on a Monday

3  Thank Joshua G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2014

Outstanding experience: the newish museum of the diocese of Cologne is well worth a (repeat) visit. The swiss architect P. Zumthor incorporates the remnants of the church St. Kolumba, which was heavily damaged in 2nd WW. The 1950ies chapel as well as the medieval basements of a number of former church buildings on this site are both powerful showcases of the history of Cologne church life.
Be open minded about the exhibitions, changing annually, there are no name tags next to the exhibits, nor audio guides available. You are encourages to explore at your own pace, and to contemplate the striking contrast between the medieval artifacts on display alongside modern art. Stunning building and views out into the city with its trade mark mix of ugly 50ies concrete buildings and the regal cathedral looming large. What a great addition to the high quality museum collection of Cologne.

Thank I K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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