Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Google Cultural Institute
Stüler's overall proposal of a "sanctuary for art and science" (1841) centres on a temple-like building based on the sketches made by Friedrich Wilhelm IV in his own hand. From 1862 to 1865 Friedrich August Stüler developed these into the plans for the Nationalgalerie, which in turn were realized by Johann Heinrich Strack after Stüler's death.
The high base and nominating steps in front of its façade and in its interior, as well as its pediment's programmatic inscription "Der Deutschen Kunst" ("To German Art"), made the Nationalgalerie, which was opened in 1876, a monument to a new, patriotic consciousness. Later, around 1900, the subject matter of 19th century art opened up to French painting. This new, internationally focused concept brought with it incisive changes to the construction in the interior.
After much destruction wrought by World War II in 1944, it was already possible to reopen part of the Nationalgalerie in 1949, and visits to both levels became possible in 1950. When the Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe opened at Potsdamer Platz in 1968, the Nationalgalerie on the Museumsinsel became known as the "Alte" (Old) Nationalgalerie.
In 1861, the consul and banker Joachim Heinrich Wilhelm Wagener bequeathed 262 paintings by German and foreign artists to the prince regent of Prussia. With this deliberate stimulus for the creation of a "national gallery", the history of the Nationalgalerie thus begins not with a state decree, but with a shining example of the spirit of civic patronage and private commitment to art that survives to this day. After the revolution of 1848, enlightened bourgeois ideals of community culminated in the idea of a "nation", but until 1871 it existed only as a cultural and political vision. So when Friedrich August Stüler started designing the Nationalgalerie in 1865, it anticipated a nation that did not yet exist in political terms.
Today, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin's Nationalgalerie is spread across six very different venues: the Alte Nationalgalerie, inaugurated on the Museum Island in 1876, which houses the collection of nineteenth-century art; Mies van der
Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie, opened in 1968 at the Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz, which displays modern masterpieces from Expressionism to post-war avant-garde; and, since 1997, the Hamburger Bahnhof- Museum fur Gegenwart - Berlin with its collections of contemporary art. They are joined by three affiliated museums with particularly exquisite collections in the field of Classical Modernism: the Museum Berggruen, housing the collection "Picasso and his Time", the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, which specialises in Surrealist works, and the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche with its collection of nineteenth-century Berlin sculpture by followers of Gottfried Schadow.