Ruhr Museum

Coal Washery

Measuring 90 metres in length by 30 metres in width and 40 metres in height, the actual museum building, the former Coal Washery, is the largest building of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. When it was still in operation, it was used as a large-scale machine for sorting, classifying, buffering and distributing coal. The general design was completely subordinate to these functions.

The building’s redevelopment was undertaken by the architects Rem Koolhaas and Heinrich Böll and satisfied the requirements for the conservation of listed buildings. They redeveloped the building from top to bottom, according to the original flow of production. An escalator carries visitors up to the 24 metre level of the Coal Washery and the international Zollverein visitor centre which houses the information desk, ticket office, cloakroom, café and shop.

The levels above the 24 metre level which are part of the Denkmalpfad Zollverein house carefully preserved machinery. The 30 metre level is home to the Portal of Industrial Heritage (Portal der Industriekultur), which informs visitors about the impressive landscape of industrial museums and monuments in North Rhine-Westphalia and the structural change of the Ruhr Metropolis.

The levels below the visitor centre are reserved as exhibition space and also used as the Ruhr Museum’s collection storage facility. Cultural goods are now kept and presented where coal was once stored. Spectacular rooms have been created in the former industrial building in a way that could never have been achieved by a new building. Even without the exhibitions, they would be a great attraction for visitors to the museum.