The Return of a Berlin Icon: Neue Nationalgalerie to Reopen

BBR / photo: Thomas Bruns. 

Those of you who have been in Berlin for more than a minute might remember that we actually had an equivalent to New York’s famous MoMA not too long ago but it somehow vanished behind a construction fence in what feels like ages ago. I’m talking about the Neue Nationalgalerie on Potsdamer Straße down the street from the Philharmonic and the Kulturforum.

The famous museum had been Berlin’s main exhibition space for Modern Art for almost 50 years until it had to close back in 2014 because of the growing pains of the building. The building from the late 60s is one of Berlin’s architectural icons, designed by former Bauhaus director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It’s actually the last building he designed in Europe.


BBR / photo: Thomas Bruns. 


To be honest, it took me a while to appreciate the uniqueness of the building. The concept of a minimalist glass pavilion that functions as an entrance to an underground museum seemed a bit like an odd use of space and windows to me when I first visited it in the early 2000s. My idea of a museum was probably more informed by the classical architecture you’ll find on the museum island. It took me a visit to the actual Bauhaus in Dessau to really understand the astonishing concepts of modern architecture.

I remember quite fondly the many visits to this place, some highlights being the MoMA guest exhibition that saw long lines around the block for its entire run, as well as the Kraftwerk concerts in the glass pavilion after its closing.


BBR / photo: Thomas Bruns. 


The renovations of the museum took a good 6 years and an impressive amount of money due to some challenges in the construction. It was done by yet another iconic architecture office: David Chipperfield Architects. You probably heard from them not too long ago: They also designed the newly opened James-Simon-Gallery on the museum island.

Due to the pandemic, the finalization of the renovations got delayed a bit. Not BER-style delayed, just a few months and it doesn’t matter much anyway since things are closed due to the lockdown. But finally, here we are: Like a phoenix from the ashes the Neue Nationalgalerie will rise again. The re-opening is scheduled for August 2021 with an exhibition of the work of American sculptor Alexander Calder. We can’t wait!


BBR / photo: Thomas Bruns. 

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