Museum of 20th Century

  • The Kulturforum is getting a new building: a museum of twentieth-century art. Along with the "Mies building", it will enable the Nationalgalerie to show its major collection of twentieth-century art in a coherent form at last.

    Modell mit Darstellung des Baugebiets am KulturforumAn architectural model of the Kulturforum shows the location of the proposed museum © SPK / Claudia Fritzsche

    Plans for a New Building to Show Twentieth-century Art at the Kulturforum

    In November 2014, the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, resolved to assign 200 million euros to the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) for a new building to show twentieth-century art at the Kulturforum. The new building is needed because for decades it has only been possible to exhibit small selections from the Nationalgalerie's comprehensive collection of twentieth-century art.

    The new building will allow several internationally significant art collections to be displayed together permanently for the first time: the Nationalgalerie's collection of twentieth-century art, the Marx and Pietzsch collections, parts of the Marzona collection, which is embedded inthe Staatliche Museen, and works from the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings). They will be shown both on the lower level of the Neue Nationalgalerie and, above all, in the exhibition spaces of the new building.

    Ideas Competition

    An ideas competition has been held to develop a design strategy for the site layout, architecture, and landscaping of the museum of twentieth-century art and its immediate surroundings. The ideas competition was launched on 3 September 2015 and ran until mid-December 2015.

    The aim of this competition was to clarify the brief and the defining parameters for a subsequent design competition. Ten prizewinners have been selected from among the entrants in the ideas competition. They are invited to take part in the design competition. The ideas competition was intended to attract entries from architects who have not yet designed or built any major museums. All of the information on the completed ideas competition and the information needed to participate in the subsequent design competition is available on the competition's Internet platform.

    Steps Towards a New Museum at the Kulturforum

    • 3 September 2015: Ideas competition opens for entries
    • Mid-December 2015: Submission of design and model by entrants
    • January 2016: Preliminary assessment of the entries
    • First half of February: Meeting of the jury and selection of ten prizewinners
    • Spring/summer 2016: Probable start of multi-part design competition
    • 2017: Selection of the winning design
    • 2022: Opening of the completed museum

    The Nationalgalerie's Collection of Twentieth-century Art

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, Berlin was a city of the avant-garde. The director of the Nationalgalerie, Hugo von Tschudi, had opened the doors of his establishment to modern art as early as the late nineteenth century, when he acquired pictures by French Impressionist painters. His successor, Ludwig Justi, enlarged the collection of classical modernism. In 1919, he set up the "Gallery of the Living" in the Kronprinzenpalais on Unter den Linden. Under this heading, the Nationalgalerie showed key works by Max Beckmann, Rudolf Belling, Lyonel Feininger, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, and many other influential modern artists. It continued to do so until this department was closed by the Nazis in 1933. In the Third Reich, large parts of this collection were labeled "degenerate art" and were confiscated or destroyed.

    The collection of the Nationalgalerie suffered extensive losses as a result of Nazi rule and the Second World War. In 1949, the partition of Germany split the collection into two parts, which were developed along different lines in the East and the West. The Nationalgalerie, as part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, made a particular effort to acquire modern art systematically in the post-war period. Other important paintings were purchased for the collection with the help of the “Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie”, the association of friends of the gallery. After the reunification of Germany, the collection was augmented with that of the Nationalgalerie in East Berlin, including the art of the GDR. In recent years, the Nationalgalerie has expanded its collection of twentieth-century art on a large scale by making numerous acquisitions, as well as by receiving donations from private collectors.

    Only selections from this collection could be shown in the Neue Nationalgalerie, however, owing to the limited exhibition space available there. The planned Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts is intended to give visitors a comprehensive view of art as it developed from around 1900 to the end of the twentieth century. Some of the works of classical modernism will be put on display in the Neue Nationalgalerie after the completion of the refurbishment work, beginning in 2020. Classical modern works will also be exhibited in the new building. The presentation there, however, will focus on the art of the second half of the twentieth century.