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The collection of the National Gallery is divided betweeen the Old National Gallery, the New National Gallery, the Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin, the Museum Berggruen, the Collection Scharf-Gerstenberg and the Friedrichswerder Church.
Old National Gallery
Today, the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) is home to 19th century sculptures and paintings. It came into being in 1861, when the banker F. W. Wagener bequeathed his art collection to the king and a new building was erected to house it. Having suffered severe damage during the Second World War, the Old National Gallery was partially re-opened in 1949, and in 1955 all of its rooms were once more accessible to the public.
Due to the Masterplan Museum Island, which enabled the gallery's comprehensive restoration from 1998, it re-opened in December 2001 as the first restored building on the Museum Island. Together with Altes Museum, the Bode Museum (re-opened in October 2006), Neues Museum (re-opening 2009) and the Pergamon Museum, it belongs to the ensemble of Berlin's Museum Island which was listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1999 and ranks among the most splendid highlights of the Berlin museum landscape.
New National Gallery
The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery), the famous "temple of light and glass" designed by Mies van der Rohe, houses the collection of 20th century European painting and sculpture. Ranging from early modern art to art of the 1960s, the collection includes works by Munch, Kirchner, Picasso, Klee, Feininger, Dix, Kokoschka, and many others.
Each year, a number of special exhibitions are on show at the Neue Nationalgalerie. During temporary exhibitions, the permanent collection is often not on view.
The collection features a number of unique highlights of modern 20th century art. Particularly well represented are Cubism, Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Surrealism. The many facets of the development of Cubism can be traced in works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Fernand Leger.
One of the most impressive parts of the collection is the art of Expressionism. The Gallery owns a number of important works by the artist group "Die Brücke", including paintings and sculptures by the Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel. A particular highlight is Kirchner's "Potsdamer Platz", a scene of Berlin nightlife painted in 1914, shortly after the beginning of the First World War. It puts today's Potsdamer Platz, just a few steps away from the gallery, in a fascinating context with its historic location.
Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin
The Hamburger Bahnhof shows major international works of contemporary art. The museum, which has ten thousand square metres of floor space, opened in November 1996 in the converted terminus building of the Hamburg-Berlin railway line. The heart of the collection is the Erich Marx Collection, which includes groups of works by world-ranking artists such as Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The Marzona Collection was added in 2002, with works from the Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, Land Art and Minimal Art movements.
As of September 2004 the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, one of the largest collections of twentieth and twenty-first-century art, will be on view in the neighbouring Rieck Hall, where a new selection will be presented every year.
The Museum Berggruen presents exceptional works of classic modern art. Included among the artists are Picasso, Klee, Giacometti and Matisse.
The Museum Berggruen is situated in the Western Stüler Building, opposite Charlottenburg Palace. Oil paintings, sculptures and various works on paper are on show on three floors under the title "Picasso and his Time". More than 100 works by Picasso form the heart of the collection.
The collection also focuses on Paul Klee who is represented with more than 60 pictures. These small, delicate compositions reflect the poetic world of the artist from 1917 to 1940. In addition there are more than 20 works by Henri Matisse, including more than half a dozen of his famous paper-cuts. Sculptures by Alberto Giacometti as well as examples of African art also enrich the heart of the collection.
Heinz Berggruen was one of Europe's most successful art collectors. He was born in Berlin in 1914 and emigrated to the USA in 1936. After the war he founded a gallery in Paris which quickly became a leading address in the international art scene. In 1980 he gave up his gallery work to concentrate on his collection which he has cultivated for four decades. After having shown his collection in the National Gallery in London for five years, Heinz Berggruen decided on Berlin.
From July 2008, the Collection Scharf-Gerstenberg is exhibiting excellent works by the Surrealists and their forerunners. The spectrum of artists ranges from Piranesi, Goya and Redon to Dalí, Magritte, Max Ernst and Dubuffet.
The Collection Scharf-Gerstenbergcan be found in the eastern Stüler building and in the Marstall (stables wing) opposite Charlottenburg Palace. Paintings, sculptures and works on paper are being exhibited on three floors under the title "Surreal Worlds".
The Collection Scharf-Gerstenberg presents the holdings of the "Stiftung Sammlung Dieter Scharf zur Erinnerung an Otto Gerstenberg", the foundation of the Dieter Scharf collection in remembrance of Otto Gerstenberg. The starting point lies in the collection gathered together by Otto Gerstenberg (1848-1935) in Berlin around 1910. He compiled one of the largest collections of painting and graphic art of his time, covering a broad range of periods from the Old Masters to Impressionism.
Otto Gerstenberg's passion for collecting art was continued by his grandsons Walter Scharf (1923-1996) and Dieter Scharf (1926-2001). The latter took over the graphic cycles by Piranesi, Goya and Klinger as a founding stock for his own collection which focuses on the fantastic and the surreal. With great determination and consistency, he assembled an outstanding collection which, shortly before his death, he converted into a foundation which was to present its holdings on a permanent basis in Berlin.
On display in the Friedrichswerder Church in Berlin-Mitte are sculptures from the early 19th century. Built between 1824 and 1830 after plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the Friedrichswerder Church, with all its works, is the most authentic building of its creator.
The reception of antique motif and form is an important feature of the sculptures from the late 18th to the mid-19th century which are on display here. They are grouped in the exhibition space in a way which is informal and rich in connections so that the observer is given an impression of something like a "landscaped serenity". At the centre of the exhibition is the original plaster model for Johann Gottfried Schadow's marble sculpture of the Prussian princesses.