Re-founded in 1977 as a charity, the Freunde der Nationalgalerie (Friends of the Nationalgalerie) are substantially supporting the work of the Nationalgalerie, which comprises six locations: Alte and Neue Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof, Friedrichswerdersche Kirche, Museum Berggruen as well as the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg.
According to its statutes the main purpose of the Freunde is “to give lasting support to the Nationalgalerie and, thus, to participate in its further development.” This goal was pursued by financing over 300 acquisitions during the past years. The purchases include important works of art such as Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue by Barnett Newman, the Skat Players by Otto Dix or Eduard Gaertner’s Ansicht der Rückfront der Häuser der Schlossfreiheit.
Among the contemporary works acquired in the past were, for example, Project for the Nationalgalerie by Jenny Holzer, works by Christian Jankowski, the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, Corinne Wasmuht, Via Lewandowsky, Thomas Demand, Michel Majerus and Fiona Tan.
In 1984, besides funding purchases, the Freunde for the first time also supported an exhibition project of the Nationalgalerie: Edgar Degas. Pastels, Sketches in Oil, Drawings. Since then, more than one hundred large and small exhibitions have been funded and organised as well. The exhibition The MoMA in Berlin with 1.2 million visitors marked the peak of over thirty years’ involvement in exhibitions, which ranged from Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Max Ernst and – at three times – Pablo Picasso to Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly, Rebecca Horn, Jeff Koons and Gerhard Richter.
Awarded for the first time in the year 2000, the Preis der Nationalgalerie represents another pillar in the Freunde der Nationalgalerie’s commitment to contemporary art. Previous prize winners have included Monica Bonvicini, Omer Fast, Cyprien Gaillard and Anne Imhof. The support and solidarity of the Freunde was complemented in 2005 by the founding of the Stiftung des Vereins der Freunde der Nationalgalerie für zeitgenössische Kunst (Foundation of the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie for Contemporary Art).