The Beethoven House in Bonn, Germany, is a memorial site, museum and cultural institution serving various purposes. Founded in 1889 by the Beethoven-Haus association, it studies the life and work of composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
The centrepiece of the Beethoven-Haus is Beethoven’s birthplace at Bonngasse 20. The neighbouring buildings (Bonngasse 18 and 24 to 26) accommodate a research centre comprising a collection, a library and publishing house, and a chamber music hall.
The Beethoven Haus association, founded in 1889 to preserve the house, spared the house from demolition. The following years were characterised by renovation and remodelling works to turn the house into a memorial site. At the time, major parts of the building were still as they had been in the second half of the 18th century. In order to preserve spacious museum rooms, the floor plans of the main house were changed and an office for the association, plus a library and a flat for the janitor were installed. Construction changes in Beethoven’s flat were limited to the stairs and the passageways to the front building. The inner yard was decorated with trellises and sandstone slabs, and a garden replaced the place where the beer hall had been. It has not been remodelled since. In order to preserve the character of Beethoven’s birthplace in its contemporary environment and to protect the building, the association bought the neighbouring house number 22 in 1893. After installing a fire protection wall, the building was sold again. In 1907 house number 18 “Im Mohren” was bought to extend the property. At first it was used as an apartment building. In 1927 the newly founded Beethoven archive moved in. In the mid-1930s both houses were extensively renovated.The Beethoven-Haus survived both World Wars almost unscathed. In the Second World War, Senior Building Officer Theodor Wildemann, later serving as the association’s chairman, in his role as Deputy Provincial Curator, made sure that the collection was brought to an underground shelter near Siegen (Sauerland), thereby avoiding any war-related losses or damages. During a bombing of the Bonn city centre on the 18th October 1944, a fire bomb fell on the roof of Beethoven’s birthplace. Due to the help of janitors Heinrich Hasselbach and Wildemans, who were later awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit, as well as Dr. Franz Rademacher from the Rhenish National Museum, the bomb did not cause a disaster.
The damages were repaired in the early 1950s. In the late 1960s, the third renovation took place. For the fourth, basic renovation of the buildings from 1994 to 1996 the Beethoven-Haus was awarded the Europa Nostra award for cultural heritage (awarded since 1978) in 1998 as the first institution in Germany.