Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Google Cultural Institute
The Gemäldegalerie has presented to the public masterpieces of older Western painting in its newly erected building at Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz since 1998. The competition for the Gemäldegalerie new building, held in 1986, went to architects Hilmer and Sattler. With Prussian exactness, the building's minimal design rises above the tapering piazetta below, while inside its various rooms are grouped around a bright, well-lit lobby. A study gallery was added to the after the sweeping events of 1989 and 1990 that also led to the reunification of the various collections belonging to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin a year later in 1991. In its architectural reserve, the building's minimal outer design is reminiscent of Schinkel's Altes Museum, while inside, the collection rooms bear similar classical proportions. From the large central lobby, itself a place of peace and contemplation with the water fountain and sculpture by Walter de Maria, visitors can delve back into the individual exhibition rooms and recontinue their tour through the collection. The consequential use of daylight illumination throughout sets a benchmark for other major art galleries. With its many famous masterpieces, the building now ranks once again as one of the major European galleries and offers a comprehensive overview of European painting from the 13th to the 18th century.
The Gemäldegalerie was opened in 1830 in the "Royal Museum" next to the Lustgarten. It was designed by Schinkel and later renamed the Altes Museum. The core of the collection was formed from the art treasures belonging to The Great Elector (1620-1688) and Frederick the Great (1712-1786). The gallery's first director, Gustav Friedrich Waagen, steadily built up the collection using systematic, scientific methods unique in Europe at the time. The collection's international renown must be attributed to Wilhelm von Bode who directed the gallery from 1890 to 1929. Thanks to his great dedication the gallery made many significant acquisitions and set up a collection covering almost all aspects of European art. In 1904 the Gemäldegalerie moved with its growing collection to the newly built Kaiser Friedrich-Museum (later named Bode-Museum) which was originally conceived as a Renaissance museum. Bode inspired wealthy citizens to support the purchase of works of art and in 1897 founded the Kaiser Friedrich-Museums-Verein, a society still active today. The Second World War put an end to the continuous development of the collection. The museum was badly damaged and more than four hundred large-format works were destroyed. The division of the city was accompanied by a splitting of the collection with two separate exhibition centres. Until 1997 most of the works were shown in Berlin-Dahlem and others in the Bode-Museum on Museum Island Berlin. After more than fifty years of separation this superb collection can now be enjoyed in its original splendour in the newly built Gemäldegalerie at the Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz.