Neue Nationalgalerie – Berlin

Potsdamer Straße 50, Berlin
Berlin, Germany
closed on: Mondays, 24 & 31 December
Museum Type: Art
Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Mies van der Rohe

The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) in Berlin is a museum of modern art located in the Kulturforum area, near Potsdamer Platz.

History and architecture
The Neue Nationalgalerie was founded after the post-war division of Germany and the dispersion of the former Nationalgalerie collection when, in the ’50s, the City of Berlin took the decision to rebuild a public collection and museum of modern art, mostly focused on 20th-century artists, which later became the current Neue Nationalgalerie.

The museum is housed in an iconic building, completed in 1968 after a design by German architect Ludwig  Mies Van Der Rohe.
The museum’s architecture was inspired by an unbuilt design for an administration building in Cuba, conceived by Mies Van Der Rohe in 1954 for the rum brand Bacardi, and it is also very similar to another never-realized project by Mies for the Schäfer Museum in Schweinfurt, Germany.

The building includes a large 2,600-square-meter glazed pavilion, with a massive square flat roof supported by eight cruciform columns, lying on a larger basement which accommodates spaces for the permanent collection, administration offices, storage rooms, and a small garden.

Though much criticized after its opening by those who considered it more a temple to its architect than a real museum, the building of the Neue Nationalgalerie is now generally considered a masterpiece of modern architecture, and one of the greatest designs by Mies van der Rohe.

Cover image: the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin designed by Mies van der Rohe; photo © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker.

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 14

The Neue Nationalgalerie and the St. Mattew Church; photo: Fabio Candido (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 07

Detail of the steel roof of the Neue Nationalgalerie; photo: Andreas Levers (CC BY-NC 2.0).

David Chipperfield’s renovation
Designed in the 1960s, in the 2010s the building was clearly requiring a complex restoration of its structural and finishing elements, as well as an extensive update of its service facilities, technical systems, energy performances, and accessibility in order to meet today’s museum standards.
Carried out by acclaimed British architect David Chipperfield, the restoration and renovation design of the listed monument was aimed at the “maximum preservation of the existing fabric, with minimum visual compromise to the building’s original appearance” (David Chipperfield Architects).
The fully renovated Neue Nationalgalerie was reopened to the public on August 22, 2021.

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, architect Mies van der Rohe, exterior 2

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, architect Mies van der Rohe, interior

Exterior and interior views of the Neue Nationalgalerie in 2021, after David Chipperfield’s renovation; BBR / photos: Thomas Bruns.

The impressive collection of modern and contemporary art of the Neue Nationalgalerie includes masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, and Thomas Schütte, just to name a few, and it is constantly enriched through new acquisitions.
Since the building of the Neue Nationalgalerie is not large enough to present the museum’s collection in its entirety, the artworks are usually exhibited on a rotating basis.
Large sculptures – by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra, among others – are displayed on the museum terrace, while smaller pieces are permanently on view in the “Sculpture Garden” on the ground floor.

Programs and services
The Neue Nationalgalerie organizes special exhibitions, guided tours, and learning activities for adults, children, families, and schools.
Along with exhibition spaces, the museum’s building includes a research library, a shop, and a cafe.

Picture gallery

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 1st floor plan

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe basement plan

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, preliminary design (1963), basement and first floor plans; images © bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB / Dietmar Katz

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 13

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 05

Photographs: Fabio Candido

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Mies van der Rohe 08

Photograph: Andreas Levers

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin Chipperfield exhibition 1

Neue Nationalgalerie, David Chipperfield, Sticks and Stones, an Intervention, 2014, Installation view © Photo: David von Becker

Paul Klee Architektur painting 1923 Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin

Paul Klee: Architektur, 1923 (Detail), oil on canvas, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Jörg P. Anders

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