Max Ernst Museum

The Max Ernst Museum is a worthy setting for the work of the artist in his home town of Brühl. The modern extension of a listed old building received a prize in the 2005 Light Architecture Awards.

The conversion of the classical Benedictus Home of 1844 into the Max Ernst Museum began in November 2002. The supporting organisation is a foundation comprised of the town of Brühl, the Kreissparkasse (regional bank) and the Landschaftsverband (regional authority) as partners. The principal items of the museum collection are works collected by the town of Brühl since 1969 as well as sizeable bundles of pieces from the estate of Max Ernst and the holdings of other private collectors, which the Cologne Kreissparkasse acquired in 1999.

Of the substantial volume of the extension, the only part visible initially is the light, delicate pavilion with entrance and cash desk, harmonising with the U-shape of the old building. From here, stairs lead down to the lower level. The room for temporary exhibitions and an auditorium stretch underneath almost the entire new forecourt. Walkable glass areas establish a connection with the outside and allow daylight to penetrate into the exhibition room. The entrance area is illuminated by Lightcast downlights for low-voltage halogen lamps to provide glare-free, brilliant light.

The lighting technology in the exhibition room is fitted in installation ducts in the concrete ceiling. Diffuse light emission luminaires behind burnished covers have been combined by the lighting designers of "Licht Kunst Licht" with cardanic directional luminaire inserts to provide accent lighting. ERCO 3-circuit tracks provide additional assembly options for spotlights and floodlights, while roller blinds allow daylight to flood in through the roof lights in measured doses. Thus the room is also suitable for media presentations.

The old building houses the permanent exhibition with paintings, graphic art, and sculptures from the different creative phases of the artist. The collection is rounded off by documents from the life of Max Ernst. White walls and light wooden flooring create a bright atmosphere. Most of the gallery rooms are naturally lit through the windows. Semi-transparent roller blinds dim the incoming daylight to a level that is conducive to the proper conservation of the works.

This natural basic lighting is complemented by a classic gallery lighting concept: ERCO tracks are fitted with Optec spotlights and wallwashers to set off the exhibits by means of accent lighting. The central, former “dance hall" with well-known, large sculptures such as the figure ensemble "Capricorn" (photo left) is also fitted with Lightcast low-voltage halogen downlights for glare-free general lighting.

High-quality lighting technology and compact dimensions qualify the Optec spotlights range for use in galleries with a more intimate atmosphere, such as in the old building of the Max Ernst Museum. As wallwashers, they ensure a consistent and largely reflection-free illumination even of works that are hung behind acrylic glass for security reasons. The spotlights are available with optional accessories such as protection filters or sculpture lenses. The dimming potentiometer at the electronic transformer of the low-voltage spotlights is used to keep to precise illuminance specifications as required for proper conservation of the works.

Comesstraße 42
50321 Brühl
Tel: 0049 (0) 2232-5793110
Fax: 0049 (0) 2232-5793130
E-mail: info(at)

Completion: September 2004
Client: Town of Brühl
Permanent exhibition (old building): 1000m²
Temporary exhibition (LL new building): 500m², 5m clearance
Event room: capacity of approx. 350 persons

Architektenarbeitsgemeinschaft Van den Valentyn Architektur, smo Architektur, Cologne
Thomas van den Valentyn, Gloria Amling, Seyed Mohammad Oreyzi

Lighting design:
Licht Kunst Licht, Bonn

ERCO Newsletter - inspiring projects, new products and fresh lighting knowledge

Subscribe to the newsletter
Your data will be handled confidentially. For further information see Data protection declaration
From now on, for convenience and speed, we will be emailing the ERCO Newsletter in a digital format on a regular basis to help you keep up with the latest news from ERCO. We aim to ensure that you’re updated about events, awards, fresh lighting knowledge, project reports and product news along with reports from the lighting and architectural sectors. The publication is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.