In 1822 Karl Friedrich Schinkel was commissioned to construct the 'Royal Museum' at Lustgarten. The building, now known as the Altes Museum, was officially opened on 3 August 1830 in an event of great historic significance: not only did it mark the first public museum building in the city of Berlin, but also the start of what has since become known as the Museumsinsel Berlin.
The sculpture collection and picture collection and the Kupferstichkabinett (literally: the 'cabinet of engravings') were now relocated from the palace to the Altes Museum. As well as designing the building itself, Schinkel was also responsible for its interiors, and even for the framing of the paintings. In 1827 Gustav Friedrich Waagen, then director of the Gemäldegalerie (the picture collection) selected 1196 paintings for public display; half of these canvases however were without frames. This left Schinkel with the task of producing picture frames for around 600 paintings within the short space of just three years. He remarked: 'we are missing 8782 running feet of wooden edging', a figure that roughly equates to 3000 metres of gilt strips of wood.
Apart from actually designing a few individual picture frames, Schinkel developed a kind of 'modular' construction system, which saved time and money. Gilded wooden strips with various mouldings and profile widths were cut to size to suit the canvas edges and then adorned with gilt lead ornamentation and pendentives.
The Kupferstichkabinett now presents in a small one-room show in the GemäldegalerieSchinkel's design process, starting with a rough sketch for the initial frame design and including exact templates for artisans to work from and finally the finished product: the 'Schinkel frame' itself. In addition, canvases that still hang in Schinkel's original frames, are marked in the permanent collection.
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