We’ll have to be honest with you, we weren’t looking for it and we hadn’t planned to see anything like it that day. Call it ignorance call it obsession but all we could think about that day, driving around the countryside in Neuss, Germany, was the Langen Foundation. Yes, of course we know all about the beautiful and prominent space created by Starchitect Tadao Ando. However, looking for a sign or side road that takes you to Langen Foundation our eye caught a very timid sign casually standing within the thick bushes as trees on the side of the road saying: “Museum Insel Hombroich” (Museum Island Hombroich). Of course overcome by curiosity and a very minimal craving for adventure we took that left and found ourselves in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere as it seemed.. No island.. no museum.. nothing in sight really.
In need to stretch our legs a little we finally decided to just go for a stroll in what seemed to be one of Germany’s (many) very beautiful patches of nature and woods. Little signs turned up directing us in the way of the museum island. A rather small and down-to-earth looking building is where we ended up, a table with a few chairs, a lovely German lady at the a desk and a whole lot of book and postcards, is what we found there, but no museum. Obviously looking quite confused the lady called us over to enlighten us.
Handing us a small map of the grounds, that are to be found behind the building, she sent us off into the nature.. Answering all of or questions with “just keep walking you will see”..
And WOW… did we see! Unlike any place we had ever been to, Sculpture Gardens and Contemporary Museums, this place was definitely the most natural we’ve ever encountered. No direction, no signs, nothing to guide you through the large grounds other than the little map. The lush greenery goes on for forever, with little ponds everywhere that have become a home for ducks and other animals, tolerating and allowing your visit. As the trees and nature continues and creates several paths through the grounds, you literally stumble across the art. It now made perfect sense to tell us to keep walking and just see.. Randomly placed sculptures decorate the natural habitat of all these little cute animals we encountered and create a sense of suspense.. what am I going to find next?!
“The nature conservation area Museum Insel Hombroich provides a protected habitat for a wide range of animal and plant life. We have purposely left the footpaths free of information plaques and sign postings and rely on you to threat this unique ensemble of art and nature with respect.” –Insel Museum Hombroich
There truly is no other place so far that has succeeded to make Art live parallel to Nature so effortlessly. Both equally impressive. What we personally love the most was that we never knew what to expect. Beautiful geometric sculpture made of white marble, large lego men made of copper or incredible antique vases present themselves to you depening on which turn you take. Feeling like children, each one of us would point at their newest discoveries.
Unlike any other sculpture gardens, the Insel Museum Hombroich has “walk-in-sculptures”, designed by sculptor Erwin Heerich. These buildings were designed for the purpose to exhibit and house the lovely art collection of the founder himself, Karl-Heinrich Mueller. The overall concept of the exhibition, however was created by painter Gotthard Graubner who worked on forming a dialogue between art and culture objects from two millennia.
We also walked into amazing pavilions with a core collection based on the works of Kurt Schwitters, Alexander Calder and Yves Klein, Jean Fautrier, Erwin Heerich and Gotthard Graubner amongst others.
Founded by art collector Karl-Heinrich Mueller in 1987, the Insel Hombroich Museum was designed to create combination of architecture, art and most of all, nature. Unlike many collectors he tried to maintain a close connection with the artists, providing studios on the Museum grounds for sculptor Erwin Heerich and painter Gotthard Graubner. A barn in the old park was even converted into a space for Anatol Herzfeld, where he has been working almost daily since.
We must say that Museum Insel Hombroich is a truly unique and special environment. The unexpected gem really transports you to a place far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and any kind of connection to the daily routines. Almost like entering an adventure where your own encounters with art and nature are created by no one else but you. Free to make your own paths and decide on your own direction, discovering the place uniquely, that’s what makes the Museum Insel Hombroich so charming and different, truly awakening the sense.
But don’t get too carried away they do close at the end of the day and you will need to find your way back before!
Don’t worry, during all the walking and exploring you may just find the cafeteria, which is surrounded by seating areas in the middle of the nature and beautiful interior, to take a moment to soak up all the surrounding beauty over a cup of coffee and some food. Amazingly enough all the food that was prepared was free!