Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, Berlin

Schloßstraße 70, Berlin
Berlin, Germany
closed on: Mondays, and December 24 & 31
Museum Type: Art
Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg museum Berlin 01

The Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg in Berlin is an art museum focused on Surrealism, located opposite the Charlottenburg Palace.

The museum takes its name from the art collectors Otto Gerstenberg, his daughter Margarete Scharf, and his grandson Dieter Scharf who, from the late-19th century onwards, built up a private collection of art, particularly focused on Surrealism, which currently forms the backbone of the Scharf-Gerstenberg museum’s permanent exhibition.

History and building
Since 2008, the museum is housed in one of the former Gardes du Corps twin buildings, completed in 1859 after a design by Friedrich August Stüler (the other accommodates the Berggruen museum) opposite the Schloss Charlottenburg in western Berlin.
The museum’s building was renovated after a design by German architectural firm Sunder-Plassmann, who also added a new modern-style entrance wing.
Previously, the building was home to the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, before it moved in 2005 to the premises of the Neues Museum, and some of its larger archaeological artifacts – namely the gate from the Temple of Kalabsha (1st century BC), and the pillars of the Temple of Sahure (ca. 2.500 BC) – were not relocated. Hence, they are still on view in the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg building, creating a strange, yet somewhat appropriate, contrast with the Surrealist works on display in the museum.

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum Berlin

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, exterior view; photo: Gunnar Klack (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum Berlin 2

An interior view of the museum’s building dome; photo Jaime Silva (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Collection and permanent exhibition
The collection of the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg comprises some 300 artworks – mostly paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs – dating from the 18th to the 20th century.
All works are either directly related to the Surrealist movement or can be considered precursors of and source of inspiration for it.
Pieces on view in the permanent exhibition include works by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Francisco Goya, Odilon Redon, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, František Kupka, René Magritte, Man Ray, Alberto Giacometti, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Joan Miró, and Jean Dubuffet, among others.
The exhibition also features videos and films by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, as well as artworks by contemporary artists either adopting the formal language of Surrealism or inspired by it.

The Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg also organizes temporary exhibitions, educational activities, symposiums, debates, and talks. The museum’s building includes a meeting/conference room, a cafe-restaurant, and a bookshop.

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg museum Berlin 02

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg museum Berlin 03

Surreal Objectivity, installation views, Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg © Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Photo: Thomas Bruns

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg museum Berlin Magritte

René Magritte, untitled, 1926; collage, pencil, watercolor; photo: Jaime Silva (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg museum Berlin Max Ernst

Max Ernst, Le triomphe de l’amour  fausse allégorie, 1937, oil on canvas; photo: Jaime Silva

Cover image, the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg entrance wing; photo © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Maximilian Meisse

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