Fragments are everywhere yet often seem out of place; sometimes they are even perceived as disturbing. Nevertheless, these incomplete or unfinished objects often harbour exciting insights and a wide range of stories that can be as fragmented as the objects’ conditions. This cross-collection exhibition presents works of art from different epochs and genres while telling their eventful histories.
Fragments shape our view of the past. They form the basis for scholarly examinations of past eras and cultures. In many cases, they are products of destruction by wars, catastrophes or even changing tastes. They also possess an aesthetic appeal. They have fascinated artists for centuries, in the form of ruins, for example, or as symbols of the past and the ephemeral.
The various collections of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz include a wide variety of fragments. The incomplete character of some is unmistakable. Others don’t immediately reveal themselves as fragments. Yet they all tell stories – from destruction and decline, research and knowledge, or even inspiration.
Why, for instance, is the area around the eye cut out of Adolph Menzel’s Portrait of a Woman? Why is Karl von Appen’s portrait sketch of the actress Manja Behrens unfinished? And why were two ancient vases combined into a single vessel during the 19th century?
The exhibition’s subject inevitably leads to a critical examination of the museum itself as an institution. Placing things in museums is invariably also a process of fragmentation. Objects are taken out of their original contexts, presented within a new framework, and possibly reinterpreted.
The appeal of something incomplete also lies in its uncertainty. There will always be gaps in knowledge, but they offer room for one’s imagination and creativity, as well as for dialogue and debate. What is it that makes an object complete? How do fragments shape our view of the past? What role do museums play in today’s society as places of encounters with the past?
The exhibition is divided into six sections. Topics including destruction and decline, as well as deliberately unfinished works, are dealt with, along with restoration and the fascination surrounding fragments in the visual arts.
A joint project by young scholars at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Head Office of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung (Museum of Musical Instruments of the National Institute for Music Research), and the Staatsbibliothek (State Library), In:complete assembles objects from the most diverse holdings, dating from antiquity to the present. The exhibition makes it possible to explore the theme of incompleteness in all of its diversity.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.
Offers and events
Address / Getting there
U-Bahn: Potsdamer Platz
S-Bahn: Potsdamer Platz
Bus: Potsdamer Brücke, Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße, Kulturforum, Philharmonie
Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 18:00
Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00
Opening times on public holidays Opening hours
Prices / Tickets
6,00 EUR Concessions 3,00
Annual Ticket from 25 €
from 25 €
Admission / Public health measures