Hiltrud Kier

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Hiltrud Kier (2010)

Hiltrud Kier , b. Arnetzl, (born June 30, 1937 in Graz ) is an Austrian art historian , university professor , former Cologne city ​​curator ( monument conservator ) and former general director of the museums of the city of Cologne . She made the preservation of monuments popular far beyond the borders of the city of Cologne and was committed to the buildings of the 1950s. One of the most important achievements of her tenure was the preservation and reconstruction of the large Romanesque churches in Cologne in 1985, the year of the Romanesque churches .


After graduating from high school in 1955 in Graz and subsequent studies in London he studied art history with a minor in musicology and classical archeology in Vienna from 1956 to 1959 and Cologne from 1959 to 1968, she in 1968 with the promotion of Dr. phil. and the dissertation “ The Medieval Jewelery Floor” from Heinz Ladendorf with summa cum laude . In the same year she was a founding member of the Ulmer Verein , an association of young art historians that had split off from the established Association of German Art Historians .

After a traineeship at the Rhineland Conservator in Bonn, there was a grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation to work on the Cologne Neustadt (1973–1976), a research contract from the German Research Foundation and a work contract with the City of Cologne (1976–1978) to compile a list of buildings worth preserving, the later Cologne monument list. In 1975 she organized the conference “The Art of Preserving Our Cities” in Cologne together with the Association of German Art Historians.

Kier was city curator in Cologne for twelve years - from August 1, 1978 to November 30, 1990. At the same time, from 1980 to 1993 she was chairwoman of the monument protection working group at the North Rhine-Westphalia City Council . At the end of 1990 she took over the general management of the museums of the city of Cologne from Hugo Borger as well as the management of the Cologne ground monument preservation, which was removed from its previous classification in the Roman-Germanic Museum . After conflicts with museum directors, the city director dismissed her from her position in 1993, but a new post was created for her as "Head of the Scientific Research Department of the Cologne Museums", which Kier held until 1997. Hiltrud Kier has been an honorary professor at the Art History Institute of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn since 1988 , an activity that she has intensified since 1997. In addition, from 1988 to 1997 she was an active member of the board of the Association of German Art Historians , as a board member of the Architekturforum Rheinland  (2002–2008) and again as a board member of the Friends of Roman Churches in Cologne.

Hiltrud Kier is married to the musicologist Herfrid Kier , mother of four children and now lives in Zülpich .

Content focus

During her time as a monument conservator, Hiltrud Kier sharpened the awareness of monument preservation in broad sections of the population and initiated numerous measures and projects that have had an impact far into the present. In addition to everyday monument preservation work, such as monitoring monument preservation measures, she was involved in the development of the Monument Protection Act for North Rhine-Westphalia from the start. Numerous developments in Cologne bear her signature, such as the increase in the “women's quota” and the sponsorship of the 120 figures of the rebuilt Cologne town hall tower . The restoration of the former Cologne Gestapo prison ( EL-DE-Haus ) and the erection of a memorial there are also part of her term of office.

Cologne Neustadt

At the beginning of her career in the preservation of monuments and during the first time she worked as a monument conservator, Hiltrud Kier was committed to the preservation of Cologne's Neustadt district, especially the Wilhelminian-style houses that were not previously recognized as listed buildings . In this context are her fundamental publications on Cologne Neustadt, with which she initiated a controversial discussion about a fundamental reassessment of historicist architecture. This topic also includes the event “The art of preserving our cities” in Cologne in 1975 and the first inventory of monuments on monument lists.

Reconstruction of the Romanesque churches

At the end of the 1970s, the reconstruction of the Romanesque churches in Cologne, which had been destroyed by the war, stagnated: Great St. Martin  had no nave, the cloverleaf choir of St. Maria in the Capitol was  hidden behind a building site wall, the decagon of St. Gereon inaccessible, the west transept of St. Kunibert  a ruin. In order to get things moving, Kier initiated the foundation of the Friends of Roman Churches in Cologne in 1981 and, together with the former diocesan master builder Wilhelm Schlombs, proclaimed 1985 the “Year of the Roman Churches” - as the goal of eliminating most of the war damage. This commitment met with a very positive response from large parts of the population; the association gained 4,000 members within a year. The first four volumes of the academic book series Stadtspuren - Denkmäler in Köln , initiated by Kier , deal with the Romanesque churches.

Re-evaluation of post-war architecture

At the beginning of the 1980s, Kier's authority continued the Cologne list of monuments with the unloved post-war objects, some of which were threatened with demolition, and campaigned for a new awareness of this now completed building era. In the Stadtspuren publication she published in 1986, around 900 “high-quality” buildings and ensembles were described, some of which were built by well-known architects such as Wilhelm Riphahn , Fritz Schaller , Karl Band  or Rudolf Schwarz .

Sponsorship system for the Melaten cemetery

In 1981, as city curator, she introduced a sponsorship system for the Melaten cemetery , which has since been adopted by many cities. Sponsors are now responsible for the restoration and preservation of many historical tombs and in return receive a right to the grave site. Usage fees are only incurred for an actual new funeral.

public relation

A major focus of Hiltrud Kier's work is raising awareness for the preservation of monuments. During her term of office she used all available channels and means to bring her concerns to the public. Numerous popular scientific publications, lectures and guided tours were included, as well as a church guide for children and low-threshold exhibitions, for example in the rooms of the Stadtsparkasse Köln. Press work was often not carried out through the press office, but directly through them, which occasionally led to “blunt” headlines and lively discussions about the position of monument preservation.


  • Honor plaque of the Cologne Architects and Engineers Association for services to the built environment (1982)
  • Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon (August 31, 1983) for services in the preservation of monuments
  • Rhineland thaler of the Rhineland Regional Council (2013)


  • The medieval jewelry floor. (= The Art Monuments of the Rhineland , Supplement 14.) Düsseldorf 1970.
  • Civil buildings from the Wilhelminian era in Cologne's Neustadt district. Cologne 1973.
  • The New Town of Cologne. (= Workbooks of the Rhineland State Conservator , No. 8.) Bonn 1974.
  • Ornamental floors in Renaissance and Baroque. 1976.
  • (as editor ): The art of preserving our cities. 1976.
  • The New Town of Cologne. (= Contributions to the architectural and art monuments in the Rhineland , Volume 23.) Düsseldorf 1978.
  • List of monuments Cologne old town and Deutz. (= Workbooks of the State Conservator Rhineland , No. 12.1.) Cologne 1979.
  • (as editor): Reclam guide Cologne. 1980.
  • Together with Ulrich Krings : The wreath of the Romanesque churches in Cologne. Cologne 1980. / 2nd edition, 1982.
  • Discover Cologne. The great Romanesque churches , 1983; 5th, completely revised edition 1993
  • (published together with Ulrich Krings): The Romanesque churches. From the beginning to the Second World War. (= Stadtspuren. Monuments in Cologne , Volume 1.) Cologne 1984.
  • (together with Wolfram Hagspiel and Ulrich Krings): Cologne. Architecture of the 50s. 1986.
  • (together with Werner Schäfke ): The Cologne Rings. History and splendor of a street. 1987th / 2nd edition, 1994.
  • (published together with C. Körber-Leupold and Sven Schütte): Archeology in Cologne. The archaeological year 1991. (= Archeology in Cologne , Volume 1.) Greven Verlag, Cologne 1992, ISSN  0943-3635 .
  • Architecture of the 50s. Buildings of the Gerling Group in Cologne. 1994.
  • Gothic in Cologne. 1997.
  • (as editor): Architecture of the 30s / 40s in Cologne. Cologne 1999.
  • Churches in Cologne. 2000.
  • Small art history of Cologne. 2001.
  • (together with Ute Chibidziura): Romanesque churches in Cologne and their historical surroundings. JP Bachem, Cologne 2004. (Photographs by Georg Esch)
Review by Wolfgang Rosen in: Geschichte in Köln , Volume 53 (December 2006), pp. 183–186.
  • (published together with Marianne Gechter): Women's monasteries in the Rhineland and Westphalia. Schnell & Steiner publishing house, Regensburg 2004, ISBN 3-7954-1676-0 .
  • (together with Hermann-Josef Reither): St. Georg, Cologne. (= Schnell Kunstführer , No. 2573.) Verlag Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7954-6551-6 .
  • St. Mary of Peace, Cologne. (= Schnell Kunstführer , Nr. 2601.) Verlag Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7954-6567-2 .
  • Reconstructions - a new architectural style? The funny in art history and monument preservation. In: Roland Kanz (ed.): The comical in art. Böhlau-Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-07206-3 , pp. 281ff.
  • Reclam's city guide Cologne. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-018564-3 ; 2nd, revised and updated edition 2011.
  • The Romanesque churches in Cologne. Guide to history and equipment , JP Bachem Verlag, Cologne 2014, ISBN 978-3-7616-2842-3 .
  • The small Romanesque churches. Guide to the history and development of Cologne suburbs , JP Bachem, Cologne 2015, ISBN 978-3-7616-2944-4 .


  • Kürschner's German Scholars Calendar 2007. Bio-bibliographical directory of contemporary German-speaking scientists. 21st edition, KG Saur Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-598-23616-7 / ISBN 3-598-23616-6 , Volume II: I-Sche, p. 1751.
  • Hiltrud Kier: When things get critical, I light a candle. In: Gerd Courts: Cologne Table Talks 1976-1989. (with photo portraits by Alfred Koch) Wienand Verlag, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-87909-235-4 , pp. 152–159.
  • Marie Hüllenkremer : Not comfortable, but good. Kier, the only man in the administration. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , No. 95 (Saturday / Sunday, April 23/24, 1988), p. 37 ( Culture section ).
  • Werner Strodthoff: “I want to be ninety years old”. Dynamic administration of the conservator. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , No. 95 (Saturday / Sunday, April 23/24, 1988), p. 37 ( Culture section ).
  • Werner Strodthoff: Hiltrud Kier is leaving Cologne's monument office. Soon at the town hall tower yourself? It made monument preservation popular. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , No. 281 (Saturday / Sunday December 1/2, 1990), ( Culture section ).
  • Birgit Aldenhoff, Martin Bredenbeck et al. (Ed.): Preservation of monuments - urban development. Contributions to the 70th birthday of Hiltrud Kier. JP Bachem, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-7616-2216-2 .
  • Martin Bredenbeck , Constanze Moneke and Martin Neubacher (eds.): Traces. A search for the art-historical pleasure gain. Festschrift for the 75th birthday of Prof. Dr. Hiltrud Kier. Edition critical edition published by Weidle Verlag, Bonn 2012, ISBN 978-3-938803-51-6 .
  • Bernward Althoff: Art historian Hiltrud Kier. A clear edge instead of empty phrases. In: Bonner Rundschau from September 4, 2013 ( online , accessed September 7, 2013)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Birgit Aldenhoff, Martin Bredenbeck et al. (Ed.): Preservation of monuments - urban development. Contributions to the 70th birthday of Hiltrud Kier. JP Bachem, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-7616-2216-2 , pp. 137-138.
  2. Away with harm. Cologne continues to sink: Off for General Director Hiltrud Kier , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of August 23, 1993. Thomas Fechner-Smarsly: The portrait: Hiltrud Kier, in: taz, August 27, 1993 . Jürgen Raap: Cologne without Kier, Kunstforum international 124, 1993, p. 508.
  3. Helmut Haumann: The Friends of Roman Churches. A success-story. In: Preservation of monuments - urban development. Contributions to the 70th birthday of Hiltrud Kier. JP Bachem, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-7616-2216-2 , p. 62.
  4. Henriette Meynen: Laudation in honor of Hiltrud Kier. In: Preservation of monuments - urban development. Contributions to the 70th birthday of Hiltrud Kier. JP Bachem, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-7616-2216-2 , p. 24
  5. ↑ Office of the Federal President
  6. ^ Westdeutscher Rundfunk, WDR 3, culture news from August 28, 2013: Rhineland thaler for former Cologne city curator. ( Memento from January 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive )