Coal dust, the flames of blast furnaces, constant heat above and below the ground - all this makes people thirsty. One of the answers is a good beer. Not for nothing were there a lot of corner bars and pubs near the factories and collieries of the Ruhrgebiet. And not for nothing was beer one of the three standard products in the region, along with coal and steel. For 120 years the Linden brewery in Unna produced the famous Linden Eagle Pils beer to slake the thirst of countless miners, furnace workers and other drinkers.
That was a long time ago. Nonetheless you can still get a beer here – more correctly you can once more get a beer here. For the old brewery is now a popular social and community arts centre with several bars and restaurants and a rich programme of entertainment ranging from cabaret via theatre, concerts, exhibitions and readings to work with children and young people, political events, parties and dances for senior citizens. The building also contains the so-called Health House, a meeting-point for more than 100 self-help groups. Furthermore the Unna Workshop offers training opportunities for young people and the long-termed unemployed and helps women to get back onto to the labour market.
There is another surprise in the vaulted cellars of the old brewery. This has been a centre of international light art since 2001, the world’s first and only museum dedicated exclusively to light art. The dark vaults of the building are transformed into a spectacular son et lumière in a series of multifaceted permanent and travelling exhibitions featuring works by well-known international artists. All this has not changed the unique character of the labyrinthine corridors, cooling rooms and fermentation plants in the least. Indeed the museum’s special atmosphere is enhanced even more by the light installations themselves. The Linden brewery was set up in 1859 and for many years it was one of the most famous old breweries in the region. It was closed in 1979, not because of the quality of the beer but because it was unable to compete with the larger breweries. Now its tall thin chimney stands out on the urban horizon as a symbol of the town’s lively cultural activities. This unique museum is a rich blend of old brewing culture and highly modern contemporary art.