The Von der Heydt-Museum is located right at the heart of Wuppertal-Elberfeld’s pedestrian zone. The classical building on Turmhof 8, originally the town hall of Elberfeld, became the municipal museum in 1902. From its beginnings the character of the Von der Heydt-Museum has been shaped by the middle-class residents of the towns of Elberfeld and Barmen, which merged in 1929 to form the city of Wuppertal. If the museum possesses today one of the richest collections in Germany, this is primarily due to the citizens of Wuppertal, their appreciation of art and their community spirit. The Von der Heydt-Museum owes its existence largely to the commitment shown by local residents. Especially notable as donors and patrons are the Elberfeld banker August von der Heydt (1851-1929) and his son Eduard von der Heydt (1882-1964). In grateful recognition of this the Museum has, since 1961, borne the name of the Von der Heydt family. The art lovers who made up the Barmen Art Society as well purchased important works and donated them to their museum. Over more than a hundred years, generous endowments and gifts made by citizens, together with major purchases have produced a collection of impressive size ranging from 16th century to contemporary art. Despite the enormous losses inflicted on the Museum by the National Socialist campaign against degenerate art, the collection now comprises some 3,000 paintings, 400 sculptures and around 30,000 works on paper. Areas in which the collection excels are Dutch painting of the 17th century, paintings and graphic art of the 19th century including some fine pictures of French Impressionism and 20th century painting. Expressionism, in particular, is represented with some outstanding works.
In recent years the Von der Heydt-Museum has focused its activities on the mounting of larce-scale special exhibitions on French 19th century art, devoted for example to the School of Barbizon, to Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard and Alfred Sisley. Most recent contemporary art is primarily shown in the Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle in Wuppertal-Barmen.
With its stock of over 100,000 volumes, the Von der Heydt-Museum’s Library represents the largest collection of art books in the Bergische Land region. It is a reference and research library for Museum visitors, art historians, journalists, teachers, students and all local residents with an interest in art. Its resources include books, CD-Roms, videos, journals and a wealth of small publications and specialist materials that are not obtainable from bookshops.