Harmonious contrasts: Bahnhof Rolandseck and the Richard Meier Building
If visitors approach the Arp Museum from across the Rhine, their gaze will automatically wander upward from the Neo-Classical station building to the wooded hill. And rightly so: the new museum building by the American architect Richard Meier does not hide behind purpose-built functionality. It is an artwork in its own right and has been the home of the Arp Collection since 2007.
»The Bahnhof Rolandseck will be the theatre in which all the arts unite to create a miracle.«
Your (artistic) journey begins in the Bahnhof Rolandseck with its rich traditions, combining Neo-Classical elegance with contemporary art and a spectacular view of the Rhine. From the very beginning the station was a meeting place for famous personalities from art and politics. You can best experience the spirit and style of the early days in the museum restaurant in the historic banqueting hall, the former first-class waiting room. The Bistro Interieur No. 253 which lies next door surprises visitors as a trendy Gesamtkunstwerk, which takes in the furnishings, walls, paintings, maps and windows. Guests here find themselves in a setting which bridges the gap between tradition and modernity, echoing the links between the Bahnhof Rolandseck with the new museum building by Richard Meier.
The Richard Meier Building is gleaming white as it stands against its backdrop of surrounding nature. Visitors should be pleased: where the art and the new museum building harmonise with each other, they will be the winner. Here there is no contest to occupy the limelight, but a place filled with art has been created instead, a place which shows its true colours and provides a setting for the works of the artist-patron of the museum as well as contemporary art.
»My open and transparent architecture creates flowing transitions between interior and exterior and reflects the same link with nature as that which is expressed in the works of Hans Arp.«
As one of the leading international museum architects, Richard Meier refers back in his architecture to the design principles of Classic Modernism, a style which experienced its heyday in the early twentieth century. That was an era which also shaped the works of the artist duo Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Meier's building is flooded with light and seems to lift visitors out of their everyday routine. Here the artworks find a fitting space in which to unfold.
The triad »Station-Mine-Castle« determines any visit to the Arp Museum. The museum experience begins immediately upon arrival in the reception area at the Bahnhof Rolandseck – the 40-metre-long corridor leading from the ticket desks serves as a silent preparation for the interplay of museum building, art and light which will successively accompany the visitor. Beneath the railway tracks, accompanied by the occasional rattling of a passing train, the tunnel widens upwards like a shaft. Depending on the time of day and the season, the daylight entering through the vertical line of windows interacts with the effect created by the space.
The call of the mountain
Visitors will find their journey involves a change of levels: the new building lies 40 metres higher than the Bahnhof Rolandseck.
Then another tunnel leads 35 metres deep into the mountain. The unadorned concrete duct is dominated by a light object by the artist Barbara Trautmann. The austere, industrial-looking space seems to serve as a reminiscence of the tradition of the mining industry in the region. The end of the tunnel leads back into the predominant white of the new building and opens up to reveal the lifts.
Unexpectedly, visitors have the feeling that they are suddenly standing in a tower in which the lift shafts and the staircase extend upwards. The journey in the partially glassed-in lifts becomes an experience in itself: the lift cabin glides out of the dark ground and along cemented drilling cores upwards towards the roof which is flooded with light.
A little tip
So you didn't know what a "Promenade Architecturale" is? It's worth finding out!
Richard Meier designed the routes through his building as a "Promenade Architecturale". So keep your eyes open for places where the architecture provides you with surprising views inside or vistas of the surroundings and paths that are flooded with light. In fact, the light is omnipresent: the numerous openings to the surrounding panorama across the Rhine create transparency, open up the building to the surrounding landscape and arouse the desire to continue the journey outside.
Very much in line with the ideas of Hans Arp, the visitor is encouraged to step outside and to head for the banks of the Rhine, where the works in the Riverside Sculpture Park are waiting to be discovered: Since 2001 they have been on view along a stretch of the river that is currently 14 kilometres in length and lies between Remagen-Rolandswerth and Remagen-Kripp. Once again in line with the ideas of the museum's artist patron, the sculptures integrate art into life and into the surrounding countryside.