Museum Abteiberg

History of the Collection

The Municipal Museum of Mönchengladbach was established in 1904, two years after the city’s Museum Association had been founded.
A small collection focused on the city’s history moved into the rooms of a former elementary school. From then on, the collection expanded continuously. In 1922, the landmark bequest of Dr. Walter Kaesbach, a native of Mönchen-gladbach, brought the museum into possession of an outstanding collection of expressionist art and established its profile as a contemporary art museum. In 1924, Oskar Kühlen donated his residence in Bismarckstraße 97, which housed the museum until the new building on Abteiberg was completed. In 1937, almost the entire Sammlung Kaesbach fell victim to the nationwide campaign against „degenerate art“. The losses caused could never be recovered after the war despite individual re-acquisitions of Expressionist works. Given its modest budget, the museum was unable to acquire classical modernist art. It focused instead on contemporary art trends. Joseph Beuys had his first museum exhibition in Mönchengladbach, and Zero, Nouveau Réalisme and Pop Art were exhibited and acquired immediately as they emerged.
Since 1970, Sammlung Etzold expanded the museum collection as a permanent loan. It is defined mainly by constructivist works, Concrete Art and Op Art. When Museum Abteiberg was opened in 1982, major sections of Sammlung Marx, including the spectacular object  „Unschlitt“ by Joseph Beuys, arrived in Mönchengladbach and remained in Museum Abteiberg until 1998 – far beyond the originally agreed loan term.
Outstanding new purchases in the Seventies and Eighties included work complexes by Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Ulrich Rückriem, followed in the Nineties by Mike Kelley, Franz West, Martin Kippenberger, Dieter Roth and Jonathan Meese.
In 2002 the regional State Garden Show Euroga 2002+ proved a major stroke of luck for Mönchengladbach, not least because the museum’s Sculpture Garden could be enriched, with support from the North-Rhine Westphalian government, by a number of works, including by Larry Bell, Dan Peterman, Franz West, Jorge Pardo and Stefan Kern.
After being closed for one year for a general reconstruction programme, Museum Abteiberg celebrated its reopening on November 04, 2007 with a complete new presentation of its collection.