Among Cologne’s numerous museums, Kolumba is by far my favourite! I used to have an annual pass during the first years of its opening and came here every once in a while just to walk around, “breathing” the special atmosphere of the museum and its peaceful courtyard. It might sound peculiar that a museum, hosting the archdiocese’s religious art collection, could be a major attraction. But I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
The museum re-opened its doors in 2007 in the new building designed by the Swiss architect and laureate of the Pritzker architecture prize Peter Zumthor. The new construction forms a building ensemble with the ruins of the Romanesque old Columba church, destroyed in World War II, and an annex chapel from the 1950s “Madonna of the Ruins”, designed by our city’s most famous architect Gottfried Böhm.
What makes Kolumba so special is the congenial mix of contrasts: old and contemporary, dark and bright, religious and profane, concrete and wood. Every little thing is planned and elaborate in detail.
There is no cafeteria and only a downsized bookshop, but this corresponds with Zumthor’s idea of building “a museum of thoughtfulness”. Instead you’ll find a reading room on the 2nd floor with comfortable leather armchairs, a selection of books and huge windows where you can let your thoughts wander over the rooftops of the adjacent houses.