Münster, as many who have heard of it know, beyond being a
significant Hanseatic city, is a highly innovative city. Considering that almost 50,000 of its roughly 300,000 inhabitants are students, it would be
difficult to ignore this vital aspect of its character. However, spend any time in Münster and you'll quickly realize
that it is much more than merely a modern university city and its proclivity
towards innovation is much more far reaching than most would ever imagine.
Thus, my favorite activity in Münster -- besides, as you may
already know, riding a bike along the fabulous "bike highway" the
encircles Münster's centre -- is wandering through the city, simply discovering
its public art installations. While many German cities boast public art, no
other German city exhibits such a spectacular array. In fact, its collection is
unique in the world.
What makes Münster's offering so distinctive is the
genuine peculiarity in the locations
-- which become as significant to the work
as the "sculpture" itself. I place quotations around the word
"sculpture" because this is a very loose interpretation of the word,
to encapsulate works so clearly varied in style that they truly cannot fit into
any real category.
Münster's public art sculpture movement essentially began in
1977 when the LWL State Museum for Art and Cultural History
with artists for the project, "Skulptur.Projekte in Münster."
then, every ten years, the project has invited collaborations with international artists (and on rare occasions in between the main exhibition year). Following each year's
installations, some of the sculptures get purchased but many have remained in
their original locations. In fact, some basically become one with the location
-- and entirely immobile -- once installed.
At present, Münster has around 60 remarkably varied
"sculptures" scattered throughout the city in the most unusual
Here’s a list of some of my favorites that are most likely
to catch you by surprise. And that, of course, is why I think you'll love them
LOOKING UP, READING THE WORDS…
This sculpture is my favorite. In the middle of a meadow,
artist Ilya Kabakov wants you to enjoy this art installation from the comfort
of the grass. To see what it is about, you really must lie down, looking up.
When you do, you’ll read an inspiring message from the artist about taking the
time to simply look up into the sky. But it's not the message but rather the
full experience of being on the grass, looking up at the message, that makes
this piece my favorite.
PUBLIC TOILET FACILITY AT THE DOMPLATZ
In 2007, artist Hans-Peter Feldmann renovated the public
bathroom at the Domplatz as an interactive, functional work of art. Every
aspect of the bathroom was rethought as "art," and the bathroom was
outfitted with large paintings, new tiles and a chandelier. The bathroom
continues to be open for free public use as part of the artist's vision for
THE LOST REFLECTION
(Tormin bridge on the Aasee)
This art is really the art of sound and symbolism. Every
Sunday, between 10am and 6pm, at the beginning of every hour, you'll hear
artist Susan Philipz singing the Bacarole from Jacque Offenbach’s opera
Hoffman’s Tales, as projected by loudspeakers. As you stand by the water,
you'll hear the song’s story that tells of a man's “lost reflection.”
AUTO OFFICE HOUSE
(Muehlenstrasse, above Café Gasolin)
In 1997, Canadian artist Kim Adams created a piece of
“squatter architecture” above an old gas station. The base of the “house” is a
five meter high grain silo and it incorporates materials such as car seats,
hoods and tires. Below, “Café Gasolin” is also meant to be symbolic, as modern
society is so fueled by caffeine.
(by the City Library)
The creation of New York artist, Tom Waterness, alongside
German architects, is a robot-ish looking woman that towers over you at eight
feet tall. She is intended to be the personification of wisdom and freedom.
And, though I cannot imagine it, if somehow Münster's public
art bores you, I can assure you art abounds here, inside and out. There is
certainly no shortage of museums. Though he is not German, one name synonymous
with art innovation is Picasso and Münster just happens to have The Pablo
Picasso Museum of Graphic Art. It is the only museum in the world devoted
solely to Pablo Picasso's graphic works.