Legendary Mansion in Small German Town to Become a Center for Contemporary Art

The Haus Mödrath will open its doors in April, coinciding with Art Cologne.

View of the Haus Mödrath in 2014 from the garden. Photo by Uwe Spoering, Cologne, copyright Haus Mödrath Foundation.

In the small town of Kerpen just southwest of Cologne, a storied mansion is set to start a new chapter by becoming an exhibition space for contemporary art. The Haus Mödrath, a nearly 11,000-square-foot manor house dating back to 1830, is currently under renovation, and set to open its inaugural exhibition, “Aftermieter,” in April 2017 with work by 20 artists, including Neïl Beloufa, Ed Atkins, and Katja Novitskova.

Backed by a foundation, the house is funded by a collector from the region, who wishes to “remain anonymous in order to keep the focus on art, rather than cultivating a personal brand,” according to a spokesperson. In line with this, there will not be a permanent collection installed in the house, but rather, it will be a proper Kunsthalle, with rotating exhibitions organized by curators.

The first, curated by Veit Loers, will open in mid-April 2017, and be on view in the remote village until mid-November, 2018. The following exhibition, yet to be announced, is scheduled to open in April 2019.

“Aftermieter” (a dated German word for sub-tenant) will focus thematically on “civilization and domesticated nature,” and on the house itself, which is located within its own 19-acre park, once groomed like an English garden.

The house, colloquially known as the Mödrath Castle for its imposing size—boasting 15 bedrooms, four fireplaces, and a chapel—is something of a local legend.

Once the site of a pigment mill, it was the first building in its district to receive electricity. Karlheinz Stockhausen, the revolutionary composer, was born there in 1928, during a time when it was used as a maternity home. Later, it was used as refugee housing during the Second World War, and in the 1950s it functioned as an orphanage.

Back in private hands and under renovation by Sollich Architects, it will now become a home for contemporary art, as well as a center for music and culture. The opening week of “Aftermieter” will take place from April 23 to 29, 2017, coinciding with the Art Cologne fair.

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