Museum of East Asian Art Cologne
The Museum of East Asian Art of the City of Cologne is the only museum in Germany that specialises exclusively in the art of East Asia. It holds numerous, world-famous works of art from China, Korea and Japan; its highlights include Buddhist painting as well as sculpture and sculpture in great diversity and on the highest international level.
Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst © Alexandra Malinka, Düsseldorf
Opened in 1913, the museum emerged from the art collection of the married couple Adolf and Frieda Fischer, which they had acquired in East Asia. On their purchasing trips along the European steamship routes, which led via Istanbul to Yokohama, they also gained an extensive collection of photographs from mainly commercial photo studios in the large port cities, which were established by local and European photographers after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 in order to meet the demand for travel photographs.
The collection of around 1,500 prints also includes photographs taken by Adolf Fischer himself during his various trips. There is also a series of photoalbums from the estates of German military personnel who were stationed in China and preferred to spend their holidays in Japan. While the images from China often convey colonialist messages, the hand-coloured photographs from the Japanese photo studios refer to the influence of Japanese woodblock prints.
After a bombing raid in 1944, the former museum building and parts of the collection were destroyed, including the glass plates from the photo collection. After initially being forgotten, the surviving collection was rediscovered in the 1990s and acquired its own status within the museum collection, which has since received greater focus ever since.