The museum was established in 1976 as an independent institution from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum.
In 2016 the museum joined forces with the Bell Art Center to organize an unofficial retrospective of Anselm Kiefer, which opened at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Today the museum houses the most comprehensive collection of early Russian avant-garde artworks outside Russia.
In 1999 Steve Keene painted in the museum.
Museum Ludwig has one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe & It holds many works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
On November 1, 2001 the museum was reopened by Kasper König. Under his direction (2000–12) the collection was expanded with essential pieces and entire groups of works, especially in the area of contemporary art, and is today one of the leading museums of modern and contemporary art in Europe.
In October 1946 a selection of one hundred paintings was shown for the first time at the old University of Cologne.
On February 5, 1976 Peter and Irene Ludwig and the City of Cologne signed a donation contract founding the Museum Ludwig.
The world’s largest private collection of Picasso’s art has been offered to a museum in Cologne, Germany, by the widow of a renowned art patron.
In February 2015, Yilmaz Dziewior was made the director of the musuem.