The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin houses the collections of the Nationalgalerie from the 20th and 21st centuries. The building was converted, extended, and finally augmented with neighboring shipping halls, the Rieckhallen, in order to present several important private collections.
A Home Base for Contemporary Art
Today's museum of contemporary art takes its name from the station building in which it is located: the terminus of the line to Hamburg, which was built on Invalidenstrasse in Moabit in the 19th century. The museum belongs to the Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin). It shows works from the collection that date from around 1960 onward.
The idea of using the building as a museum of contemporary art was suggested to the Foundation in the late 1980s. In the years that followed, the building was converted with financial support from the State of Berlin and opened in 1996. The main impetus was the desire to offer suitable premises in which to present the private collection amassed by businessman Erich Marx. The new location would also provide space for displaying twentieth-century works from the collections of the Staatliche Museen that had not yet been shown. Architect Josef Paul Kleihues was commissioned to refurbish and convert the main building and to design two new wings, of which only one was ultimately built.
Further Development of the Collection – The Museum Expands into the Rieckhallen
Once it had opened, in 1996, the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin could be used to present the works in Erich Marx's private collection. These had been transferred into the ownership of a foundation and offered on permanent loan. In 2002, the range of work in the Hamburger Bahnhof was significantly increased by the acquisition of Egidio Marzona's study collection of conceptual art and Arte Povera.
The long-term loan of the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection (from 2004 to 2021) made a dramatic enlargement of the museum premises necessary. The solution was to convert a row of shipping halls behind the main building into exhibition spaces. The design by Kuehn Malvezzi architects linked them to the former station building with an enclosed walkway. The Rieckhallen, as they are generally known, increased the total exhibition area from 7,000 to more than 10,000 square meters. Today the Nationalgalerie in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is one of the world's largest and most important public collections of contemporary art. The works in the collection, including key works of media art and huge installations, are presented in regularly changing exhibitions, which range from themed shows with a variety of works to monographic presentations dedicated to a single artist.