kunsthaus nrw

French monk Benedict of Aniane founded the cloister near the imperial palace of Aachen. Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charles the Great, commissioned the cloister, which was placed under direct authority of the emperor; the abbot was therefor also a prince of the so called Münsterländchen.


The pilgrimages to the shroud of Jesus kept up the cloister’s prosperity and in the middle of the 9th century, the relics of Pope Cornelius, protector of horned cattle, attracted many farmers to Kornelimünster. This particular popularity of the Pope Cornelius Relics gave the monastery and the city their name.


In the late Middle Ages, the cloister lost its political significance and changed into a convent, accommodating aristocratic sons who were not entitled to inheritance.

Cloister gate, 15th – 17th century, Photo: Bildarchiv-Monheim


The Belgian abbot Hyacinth Alfons of Suys and an unknown architect designed the building in 1719. Between 1721 and 1726, the abbot commissioned the north wing and his own residency to be built in the French style.


After the secularization in 1807, the Abbey grounds were sold as a farm. Manufacturing families from Aachen, who were the new owners, used the abbots’ residency as a country house.


The Prussian government purchased the facility and accommodated a teacher’s college within, expanding the buildings in the style of the existing structure.

Italian artists, imperial chamber, 1721 and 1780


After the end of the Second World War, North Rhine-Westphalia took over the buildings, renting them out to a federal archive until its closure in 2005.


The collection acquired by North Rhine-Westphalia was kept here from 1976 onward. Since then, the building has been gradually improved and restructured as an exhibition venue.