29 April 1997. Minister President Johannes Rau, Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, and Annette Jäger, Mayor of the City of Essen, formally opened the new premises of the Design Zentrum at Zollverein.
Prof. Dr. Peter Zec with Richard von Weizsäcker, former German President
First Ladies together: Doris Schröder-Köpf, the wife of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and Karin Clement, spouse of the Minister President of Nordrhein-Westfalen, during a visit to the Design Zentrum.
Around 120,000 visitors a year experience the fascination of the exhibitions on view in the red dot design museum.

The move to the Zollverein Mine

The foundation of the Zollverein Design Complex

On 29 April 1997, the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen opened its doors at the boiler house of the Zollverein Mine, Shaft XII, which had been redesigned by Lord Foster of Thames Bank. 29 April 1997. Johannes Rau, then Minister President of Nordrhein-Westfalen and currently President of the Federal Republic of Germany, formally opened the new premises of the Design Zentrum together with Annette Jäger, Senior Mayor of the City of Essen.

Over 1,000 guests attended the opening ceremony and listened enthusiastically to the Boiler House Suite, composed specially for the event by Dirk Reith. Over 10,000 guests visited the Design Zentrum in the first four weeks after the opening.

Since then, the Design Zentrum has become a meeting point for industry, politics and culture. Former German Presidents Richard von Weizsäcker and Roman Herzog paid visits to the Design Zentrum, as did Finnish President Atisari, who signed the visitors' book on the occasion of an exhibition to honour the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

In the red dot design museum, an area of over 4,000 square metres houses more than 1,000 exhibits from current award-winning design production, thus constituting the world's largest exhibition of contemporary design.

With its increased activities and the worldwide recognition paid to the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, the institution’s role within the City of Essen and the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen has also grown. The Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen was secured as an “anchor tenant” to breathe cultural life into the Zollverein Mine – closed down since 1986, but even during its operations regarded as one of the most important industrial monuments of the 20th century. The Zollverein Design Complex was born.