The new building in the Kulturforum will permanently exhibit larger parts of the Nationalgalerie collections of 20th-century art for the first time. The collections encompass all the important 20th-century art movements in Europe and North America. They include key works of Expressionism, Conceptual Art, and Land Art, as well as large-scale multimedia installations. There will be a special focus on art produced in Germany, for example, artistic positions such as “New Objectivity” or “Zero,” and art in the GDR. The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) and Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) will have their own exhibition spaces in the new museum building for graphic works, poster and book art, archival materials, and architectural models of the 20th century. In addition, visitors will see important private collections: the Marx Collection emphasizing Andy Warhol and Pop Art, on the one hand, and Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer on the other; and the Ulla & Heiner Pietzsch Collection with Surrealist works by artists such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst.
Along with extensive, flexible exhibition spaces, a large media and event hall will make restagings of performative works or film art possible.
The Nationalgalerie has only had only limited exhibition space for 20th-century art. Since 1968, only parts of the constantly growing collection could be exhibited in the Neue Nationalgalerie designed by Mies van der Rohe, and then only in rotating exhibitions. The new museum building will be connected to the Neue Nationalgalerie in both perspective and space. For the first time, it will be possible to see artistic developments spanning the 20th century in one exhibition tour through both houses.
Once the basic renovation of the Neue Nationalgalerie has been completed, parts of the collection will be exhibited there starting in 2020.
In order to ensure that the Nationalgalerie collection remains accessible to the public while the “Mies building” is being renovated, the Neue Galerie was established in Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin (Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art – Berlin) with an emphasis on Classical Modern art. Museum Berggruen and Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg (Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection) in Charlottenburg are also showing numerous works in rotating exhibitions.
About the design
Yes: the entire collection can only be presented in both buildings if a connection between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts is built as planned. The area of the Neuen Nationalgalerie lower floor is too small to exhibit Classical Modern art properly.
The new building and the Neue Nationalgalerie will be connected underground, making it possible to continue walking through an exhibition in both directions. For this reason, the main area of the underground passage will be used as exhibition space.
However, a 380-kV high-voltage power line – one of Berlin’s main power arteries – currently runs under Sigismundstrasse. The underground passage would have to run underneath this high voltage power line, and this is not possible. Independent of the construction of the new museum, plans are being made to relocate the cable. The passage between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the new museum building can be built after the cable is moved, probably in 2027. The connecting passage will be prepared on both sides so construction can be completed with as little intervention as possible after the power line has been moved.
Openness is one of the underlying principles of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts. Visitors will be able to enter the building from various entrances, depending on which direction they are coming from. From Potsdamer Platz, the closest entrance will be on the museum’s north side, on the future Scharounplatz. Visitors coming from the Staatsbibliothek (State Library) will be able to enter via Ost-West Boulevard. This will lead right to the exhibition rooms. But visitors can also reach the other museums in the Kulturforum such as the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) or the Kupferstichkabinett by walking through the new museum. And visitors who come from the Gemäldegalerie can walk across Matthäikirchplatz to the new building.
In the future, the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts will be connected. This will allow visitors to experience 20th-century art in its entirety by walking through both museums. They could begin with early 20th-century art in the lower floor of the Neue Nationalgalerie and continue in the new building with art starting in the mid-20th-century – or vice versa.
Ost-West Boulevard will provide visitors with access to the exhibition rooms of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts. But it also allows passage from Potsdamer Straße to the Piazzetta with its museums and vice versa.
There are plans to leave the Ost-West Boulevard open even when the museum is closed. In this way, the building can be open on the evenings when there are concerts in the Philharmonie, for instance. The restaurants and shop will also be open outside of regular museum opening hours.
Currently, the exhibition area is 9,000 square meters, as required by the Staatlichen Museen. The entire service area for all functions, including exhibitions, visitor services (cloak room, ticket sales, food service, shop), education and mediation (workrooms and media rooms, interactive exhibition spaces), artistic administration, storerooms, restoration, delivery, and building services, currently comprises about 15,000 square meters.
Starting in the 1960s, the Kulturforum was created as West Berlin’s location for culture. Museums and cultural facilities that are still significant today were built one by one. First came the Philharmonie, then the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Staatsbibliothek, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute of Music Research) with the Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Museum of Musical Instruments), the Kupferstichkabinett, the Kunstbibliothek and finally, the Gemäldegalerie.
The cultural institutions located at the Kulturforum are meant to enter into dialog, develop projects together, and work as a network. To a large extent, the principles of dialog and cooperation inform the design of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts. Opening the building on all sides signals its openness for a variety of joint projects. For example, the media and event room opens directly opposite the Kammermusiksaal (Chamber Music Hall) of the Philharmonie. And inside the building itself, several collections will work together. Alongside the Nationalgalerie, the Kupferstichkabinett and the Kunstbibliothek will present their collections’ inventory from the 20th century.
The Kulturforum is intended to be a place where everyone finds a forum for social debate and confronts current issues. In this spirit, the concept of the Kulturforum will be taken up and continued by the design of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts.
The new museum will occupy a significant amount of the area between the Neue Nationalgalerie, St. Matthäus Church, the Philharmonie, and the Staatsbibliothek. In this way, defined plazas and open areas will be created: Scharounplatz and Matthäikirchplatz. These open areas will be landscaped by the state of Berlin. The design for Scharounplatz began to be implemented in May 2018.
Matthäikirchplatz has a low planning priority for now. This will change after the new museum is completed. The planning team conceives of Matthäikirchplatz as an area that people could use in many ways.
During the planning stage the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz is staying in close touch with the conservation authorities. The construction plan defines a large protective area for the sycamore tree so that the roots and crown will not be adversely affected by the construction activity around it. This area will, of course, be respected in later plans.
Process and time frame
When the design plan is finished in summer 2019, it will not only contain a detailed cost calculation. The time frame will also be clearly detailed.
At the moment, we know that the groundbreaking ceremony for the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts will take place in late 2019. The opening is planned for the mid-2020s.
Two conditions need to be met before construction can begin. First, the building site needs to be cleared. That means that the utility lines below the building site need to be moved. The sculptures on the building site also need to be moved to a different location. Second, a building permit based on the detailed design plan must be issued.
A detailed time frame will be available when the design planning is complete.
The cost of the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts will be calculated based on the finished design. The design planning phase will be completed in the summer of 2019. At that time, cost calculations will also be available. These calculations will include all risk costs, as well as the expected annual construction cost increases.