The vision

How does an idea turn into a museum for everyone?

Since founding his companies in the 1970s, businessman Reinhard Ernst has been collecting abstract art. On his business trips in Europe, Asia and the United States, his interest in paintings and sculpture grew.

Reinhard Ernst before Loom (1959) by Morris Louis © Maryland College Institute of Art / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019, Bernd Fickert

“I did hardly any foreign trip without visiting a museum.”

Reinhard Ernst

Over the years, Ernst compiled an extensive, important collection of several hundred works. For quite some time, the businessman who lives in Wiesbaden had a desire to make his art accessible to the public. This gave rise to the idea of a museum for abstract art, which would exhibit works from his Reinhard Ernst Collection as well as loaned pieces from other museums.

From this vision a specific plan was produced. In 2016, the Reinhard & Sonja Ernst Foundation submitted a proposal to the city of Wiesbaden to build and operate a museum at its own expense. This proposal was adopted following a public participation procedure and cross-party approval of the municipal authorities and the city council. The architectural advisory board, which advises the city as an independent expert committee on development issues, also gave its full consent to the draft design submitted by the museum’s architect.

The architect’s hand sketches
An earlier model of the museum building
Fumihiko Maki at the presentation of his designs at Wiesbaden City Hall

The property at Wilhelmstrasse 1 was provided to the Reinhard & Sonja Ernst Foundation based on a 99-year lease. For this period, the foundation will be in charge of maintaining services and running exhibitions.

As an internationally appealing address for abstract art, a central rendezvous with a café, a children’s area, a museum shop and an events hall, the museum’s intention is to enrich the state capital of Wiesbaden. As such, a passionate collector’s vision will create a house of culture for everyone in the year 2022.

We will provide regular reports on this website about the museum project’s ongoing development.