Honouring Heinz Berggruen on the tenth anniversary of his death

23.02.2017
Museum Berggruen

On 23 February 2007, the great collector and patron of the arts, Heinz Berggruen, died in Paris. The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin commemorated the honorary citizen of Berlin by laying a wreath at the Waldfriedhof cemetery in Dahlem.

In a statement to mark the tenth anniversary of his death, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, said: “For all of us, Heinz Berggruen is still very much present. We imagine him in his museum, deep in dialogue with his pictures, explaining the happiness which good art can bring. For the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Heinz Berggruen was a true gift in himself! The Museum Berggruen is a reflection of his extraordinary life’s work. We are also very grateful to his family for their ongoing support.”

Michael Eissenhauer, Director-General of the Staatliche Museen, went on to say: “The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the international art world owe Heinz Berggruen an unending debt of gratitude. For him, of all people, persecuted and driven out of his own country as he had been by the National Socialists, to give his unique, personal art collection to Berlin, the scene of such devastating Nazi iconoclasm, was a great gesture of reconciliation.”

Udo Kittelmann, Director of the Nationalgalerie, added: “In view of Berlin’s historic losses of modern artworks, the collection which Heinz Berggruen dedicated his life to assembling is of major importance for the city in representing the art of this period. Moreover, it is to him that the Nationalgalerie owes the Museum Berggruen, a unique place where the people of Berlin can encounter masterpieces by Klee, Matisse and Picasso.”

In 1995, Heinz Berggruen initially offered to lend the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin his private collection for ten years. In 2000, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz was able to acquire the collection for the Nationalgalerie with funds from the federal government and the State of Berlin. With the Museum Berggruen, in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district, Heinz Berggruen’s great and unique life’s achievement lives on. After his death in 2007, his family announced that they were prepared to make more privately-owned works available on loan and, in future, to supplement the museum’s holdings with their own acquisitions. This led to the extension of the museum by architects Kuehn Malvezzi, completed in 2013. The museum now incorporates the adjacent Kommandantenhaus on Spandauer Damm, while a new sculpture garden has been created in the courtyard, named after Berggruen’s wife, Bettina. A glass corridor now connects the two historic buildings.