Dr. Hans Imhoff
Hans Imhoff was born in 1922 as the son of a master locksmith in Cologne’s Fleischmengergasse. Even as a child, he was beguiled by the scent of chocolate which emanated from the nearby Stollwerck factory. He spent almost his entire life with and for chocolate, beginning in Bullay in the Mosel Region, where, after the war, he founded a successful chocolate factory. Later, he took over the long-established Stollwerck group in Cologne and made it again into one of the leading companies in the sector. In 1993 he fulfilled a personal dream and built “his” Chocolate Museum for 53 million Deutschmarks by the Rheinau harbour. The idea for a museum came about by chance when a significant proportion of today’s exhibits almost ended up on the rubbish heap during Stollwerck’s move to Cologne-Porz in 1975. Many large crates were supposed to be thrown away, their contents presumed to be “trash” and “junk”. Dr Hans Imhoff took a closer look at the supposed junk and discovered some genuine treasures. After the move to the new site in Porz, Imhoff commissioned the late art historian and museologist Professor Vaclav Hepner to examine the old stock of artefacts.
At first, the primary emphasis of the collection lay on exhibits documenting the history of the Stollwerck concern. Subsequently, the concept was extended considerably in scope and the museum began to collect – and continues to collect – artefacts concerning the cultural and industrial history of chocolate. Dr Hans Imhoff passed away on 21 December 2007.
Gerburg Klara Imhoff
After the death of Hans Imhoff, his wife, Gerbung Klara Imhoff, continued to realise his ideas right up until the end of 2015. The museum underwent continuous modernisation and development during this period. Its exhibits were adapted according to the very latest scientific findings and contemporary museum designs.
It was Gerbung Klara Imhoff who in 1992 found the perfect site for the Chocolate Museum in the old central customs office at the Rheinau harbour, so that Cologne’s new landmark could be constructed. Throughout this time, she passionately accompanied the Chocolate Museum’s unique success story.
Social engagement is her central focus today. As president of the Imhoff Foundation she has a range of commitments. The Foundation supports projects in the areas of art and culture, as well as basic medical research, especially at the University of Cologne. A particular emphasis is placed upon children and young people. There are sponsorship programmes for gifted and talented children and projects for disabled and disadvantaged young people, which includes facilitating visits to the Chocolate Museum among other activities. An important link is with the centre for therapeutic horse riding in Cologne-Porz.
Annette Imhoff and Dr. Christian Unterberg-Imhoff
Annette Imhoff and her husband Dr. Christian Unterberg-Imhoff took over management of the Chocolate Museum in January 2016.
Annette Imhoff: “My father built the Chocolate Museum with great courage and confidence in 1993. After his death, my mother continued to realise and develop his vision. Together with my husband, I am carrying forward the life’s work of my parents, which they built up over many years with such a love of detail. My husband and I have made it our task to continue this success story and hope to spread an enthusiasm for the topic of chocolate among many, many more people.”
In such a rapidly changing culture and leisure scene, it is vital to continually increase the attractiveness of the Chocolate Museum. The expansion of existing partnerships, especially with the Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt, should contribute to this aim.