The Collections of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz at the Kulturforum

With its museums, libraries and concert halls, the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz is a place of art, culture and science. Internationally significant collections of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (SPK; Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) are united here.

The extraordinary variety of the collections shows the history of modern European art, ideas and culture in a range of media and in all its facets. The new building will be in a position to revitalize and expand the already existing content-related interconnections: the relationship between modern art and literature, for example, or fashion and music, design and film history, maps and world cultural history, modern and classical art history, etc.

Karl Hofer, The Black Rooms (detail)
Karl Hofer, The Black Rooms (detail) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016 / photo: bpk / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders

Neue Nationalgalerie

The Nationalgalerie (National Gallery) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) collection contains around 4,000 works of 20th century art. This partial collection is comprised mainly of the Nationalgalerie’s own collection. It also encompasses the Marx Collection, the Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch Collection and parts of the Marzona Collection, whose home is the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. German Expressionism, French Cubism, Surrealism, Color Field Painting, art of the GDR, art after 1960 and video art are the collection focal points.

The Neue Nationalgalerie, designed by Mies van der Rohe, opened in 1968. It is the only building by this architect that was built in Germany after World War II. The cubic glass and steel structure is an icon of modern architecture and a listed monument.

Titian, Venus with the Organ Player, from the Gemäldegalerie collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
© bpk / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders

Gemäldegalerie

The Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is one of the most important collections of 13th to 18th century European painting in the world. Masterpieces from all periods, including paintings by Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer van Delft are exhibited here. The collection’s focal points include 13th to 16th century German and Italian painting as well as 15th to 17th century painting of the Low Countries.

In 1987, the architecture office Hilmer & Sattler were commissioned with the new building for the Gemäldegalerie collection. With distinctly Prussian austerity of expression, the simple building rises above the sloping Piazzetta. Inside, its individual galleries are grouped around a light-filled central hall. The building opened in 1998.

Ball gown with ornamental stripes, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Ball gown with ornamental stripes © Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Stephan Klonk

Kunstgewerbemuseum

The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is the oldest of its kind in Germany. It houses world-famous examples of European design, arts and crafts from the early Middle Ages to the present, including magnificent reliquaries made of gold and precious gemstones, exquisite vases of glass or porcelain, finely embroidered clothing, ornate inlaid furniture and classic examples of modern industrial design.

Completed in 1985, the museum at the Kulturforum was built on plans by Rolf Gutbrod, one of the leading German architects in the 1960s. Gutbrod is known for allowing the structural elements of his buildings to remain clearly visible. From 2012 to 2014, the architects at Kuehn Malvezzi modernized large parts of the original Gutbrod building.

Héloïse Leloir, L'Iris–Moniteur des Modes: Two Ladies in Concert and Home Gowns, graphic reproduction
Héloïse Leloir, L'Iris–Moniteur des Modes: Two Ladies in Concert and Home Gowns © Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Anna Russ

Kunstbibliothek

The Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is an interdisciplinary research facility with one of the world’s largest museum libraries. It also boasts valuable collections on the history of architecture, photography, graphic design and fashion. Together, the library holdings and museum collections represent the full spectrum of source material on research into art and cultural studies.

Interconnecting the various disciplines within the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and providing a supply of literature are at the heart of the Kunstbibliothek’s mission. Its research activities and exhibitions open new perspectives on the history of visual media, architecture and fashion, as well as the shared origins of Occidental and non-European art.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, The Magic Flute. Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Design for the second set. The Star Hall of the Queen of the Night, drawing, collection of the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
Karl Friedrich Schinkel, The Magic Flute. Design for the second set © Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders

Kupferstichkabinett

As museum of graphic arts, the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is one of the four most significant facilities of its kind worldwide. It owns the most extensive art collections in Germany, which comprise 550,000 print graphic works and 110,000 drawings, watercolors, oil sketches and illustrated books.

The collection with masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Adolph Menzel and Vincent van Gogh, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol – plus contemporary artists – represents 1,000 years of art, cultural and media history. With its wealth of treasures, the museum is a central place of European artistic ideas, images and forms of expression. It also provides space for those of the world cultures linked to Europe.

Detail of the Diez Album fol. 71, Lute Player and Wine Drinker
Detail of the Diez Album fol. 71, Lute Player and Wine Drinker © Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library) is the largest scholarly universal library in Germany. It has two locations, Unter den Linden and the Kulturforum, and is a center of national and international literature. The print inventory comprises more than 11 million volumes along with old and rare print material, Occidental and Oriental manuscripts, music-related autographs, autographs and estates, maps, historical newspapers and books for children and youth. Databases, electronic full texts and digitized resources supplement the inventories.

The building on Potsdamer Straße opened in 1978. It was built on plans by Hans Scharoun with the cooperation of Edgar Wisniewski, who used it to further develop the concept of the cityscape.

Pages from the art and theater periodical “Comoedia para todos” (No. 85, 1932-3)
Pages from the art and theater periodical “Comoedia para todos” (No. 85, 1932-3) © Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut

Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut

The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (IAI; Ibero-American Institute) is an interdisciplinary center for scholarly and cultural exchange with Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. The IAI is a center for information, research and culture. It houses a knowledge archive with the world’s second largest specialized library for the Ibero-American cultural region. The IAI special collections include estates, maps, sound recordings, photos, films, posters and graphic art. The Digital Collections make location-independent access to the IAI’s unique inventory possible.

Founded in 1930 the IAI has been part of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz since 1962. It is housed in Hans Scharoun's building on Potsdamer Strasse, where the Berlin State Library is also located.

Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, Clavichord, fretted, Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung
Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, Clavichord, fretted © Musikinstrumenten-Museum, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung / Jürgen Liepe

Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung mit Musikinstrumenten-Museum

The Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute for Music Research) is a research facility for musicology. It is a place of historical and theoretical reflection and one where both the performance of music and its study are conveyed to a broad audience of music fans. The Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Museum of Musical Instruments) provides an ideal forum for vibrant interaction, hosting various events from academic symposia and lecture recitals to interactive sound installations. The research focal areas are interpretation research, historically oriented music theory, organology and sound studies.

The building was designed by architect Hans Scharoun and built after Scharoun’s death by his student, Edgar Wisniewski. It opened in 1984.

Other Institutions at the Kulturforum

Berliner Philharmonie

The Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonie) was built at the Kulturforum between 1960 and 1963 on plans by Hans Scharoun. Its unusual, tent-like shape and predominantly vibrant yellow color make it a city landmark. Since the opening concert under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and outstanding conductors and soloists have given its audience many a superb concert.

Stiftung St. Matthäus

St. Matthäus-Kirche (St. Matthew Church) is now the home of Stiftung St. Matthäus (St. Matthew Foundation), the art and culture foundation of the Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz. Through projects and cooperatives, the foundation supports an ongoing dialog between the Church and artists. Originally built by Friedrich August Stüler in 1844–46, it suffered extensive damage during World War II. The church was rebuilt in 1956–60.

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

The WZB Berlin Social Science Center’s research focuses on the fundamental problems of modern societies. Around 160 German and international researchers in various disciplines conduct interdisciplinary research there. They are active in the areas of sociology, political science, economics, legal studies and psychology, among others. Research results from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center are published for the scientific community and interested people in politics, business, the media and civic groups.

Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art

The Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art collection consists of around 6,000 works. It provides insight into the historical aspects of international film history and current directions in film and video art as well. Arsenal arose from the desire to make the films shown at the Berlinale Forum accessible to an international audience beyond the duration of the festival. The border between film and the other visual arts is one of its main focal areas.