In 1962 the Berlin Senate commissioned the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) to build a museum for 20th century art in Berlin. The Neue Nationalgalerie, constructed between 1965 and 1968, is the only building erected by the architect in Germany after the Second World War. A landmark of modern architecture, the museum is listed as a protected monument by the State of Berlin. From 2015 to 2021, the building underwent extensive refurbishment work.
After almost fifty years of use, an extensive renovation of the Mies building was begun in 2015. The contract for planning and implementing the necessary measures had been awarded to David Chipperfield Architects in 2012. Founded by David Chipperfield in 1985, the international company with offices in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai specialises in cultural buildings. Projects led by Chipperfield have included the reconstruction of Berlin’s Neues Museum on the Museumsinsel Berlin, which reopened in 2009, and the design of the James-Simon-Galerie, which opened its doors in 2019.
The aim of the Neue Nationalgalerie technical overhaul was to rectify safety issues, construction flaws, and damage to the structure. Priorities included updating the fire-prevention system , refurbishing the building envelope, eliminating the causes of glass breakage, renovating the structural concrete and renewing the building services. Another focus of the project was to fulfill the requirements of a modern museum regarding air conditioning, safety, lighting, storage facilities and visitor services.
The refurbishment project was carried out in close coordination with the Landesdenkmalamt (Berlin Monument Authority). The common goal was to preserve the landmark’s visual appearance and to retain as much of the historical building fabric as possible. The work could not carried out during normal operations, making it necessary to close the museum for the duration of the renovation.
The Neue Nationalgalerie is celebrating the completion of the six-year renovation with exhibitions closely related to the building and has been welcoming guests back since 22 August 2021.