The history of the collection
The history of the museum began in 1877 with the foundation of a museum association. It was Aachen's citizens who contributed works of art to this association, forming the basis for the establishment of a municipal museum. In 1882, the Aachen entrepreneur Barthold Suermondt endowed the museum association with over 100 paintings. One year later, the Suermondt Museum opened in Komphausbadstraße. In 1901, it moved to Wilhelmstraße. Over the years, the municipal collection continued to grow. In this respect, the Aachen industrialists Peter and Irene Ludwig proved to be exceptionally generous, with their more than 300 donations and permanent loans. Today, the Suermondt Ludwig Museum, with its inventory of around 1500 paintings, 700 sculptures, 10,000 prints and drawings and a huge arts and crafts collection, is one of Germany's largest municipal museums. Since 1901, has been housed in the Villa Cassalette, the former city palace of the manufacturer Eduard Cassalette. Designed by the Aachen architect Eduard Linse in Renaissance Revival style, the building was constructed over the period from 1884 to 1888. The building was acquired by the City of Aachen in 1898 to house the Suermondt Museum, which had originally been established in 1883. Even before its opening in 1901, a two-storey tract with skylight halls and a neo-Baroque staircase was added to the rear side of the villa. Further extensions were added at the end of the 1920s. Between 1992 and 1994, an extension was built on the adjacent plot of land.
Portions of this collection are on show in the Centre Charlemagne and, with a smaller number of exhibits, in the Town Hall. The Couven Museum, established in 1929 by the Director of the Suermondt Museum at that time, Felix Kuetgens, als showcases examples of upper-middle-class domestic culture from the collection.
Collection of lost paintings
As an important contribution to the history of the collection, in 2008 in its series of collection catalogues, the museum published a volume on the paintings which have been "lost" in the course of the museum's existence. For more details on the lost paintings, visit the "Phantom Gallery".