The Couven Museum restoration project
In 1999, more than forty years after the establishment of the Couven Museum at the Hühnermarkt, major renovation and restoration works commenced. With the support of the City of Aachen and the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, the first phase was completed: renovation of the roof and the facade of “Haus Monheim” at the Hühnermarkt.
The second phase of works was the renovation of the “Haus zum Lindenbaum” on the Hof corner of Rommelgasse‚ and finally the rear house bordering the Hof. In 2000/2001 the electrical system in the house was renewed, the interior painted and decorated, and the wooden floors renovated. In the final phase of renovation, in 2003, the small interior courtyard that connects the three buildings of the Couven Museum was given a new glass roof.
Restoration of the canvas paintings in the Couven Museum began with the removal of the large paintings in the Banqueting Hall and in the “Glass Corridor”. With the support of the Regional Association of the Rhineland, the 18th-century paintings were treated by the art restoration experts at Gruppe Köln. After cleansing and fixation of the extremely worn surfaces, an innovative mounting system was developed to allow back-ventilation of the paintings when they were reinstalled on the walls.
The reopening of the Couven Museum in summer 2001 offered visitors not just an “old house with a new look” but also the possibility of following the restoration measures as “work in progress”. In winter, the “Glass Corridor” was still an “empty shell” with the plaster stripped from its walls, but by the following summer visitors could marvel at the freshly restored and reinstalled landscape paintings.
The last phase of restoration work for the time began in spring 2005 with the removal of the panorama paintings from the walls of the so-called Landscape Room on the second floor for shipping to the workshop in Cologne.
The return of the landscape paintings
After extensive restoration and conservation work, the large-scale canvas paintings have now returned to the Landscape Room on the museum’s second floor. The restoration experts of the Gruppe Köln took down the landscape panorama in spring for treatment in their workshop in Cologne. For months, the conservators Carmen Seuffert and Susanne Erhards and their team cleansed and retouched the 25 running meters of canvas painting that covers all the walls of the room.
Now the views of a Dutch coastal landscape can be enjoyed in unprecedented quality. The unknown 18th-century artists offer us detailed portrayals of life and work in a river landscape. Here a coach is ferried across the river; there two wanderers inspect a signpost. Here a dog picks up a scent at the wayside; there a high society party enjoys a picnic on the hillside.