Open-air exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie

Neue Nationalgalerie

The Kulturforum’s ‘Temple to Modern Art’ has been closed for refurbishment since 2015 and will not re-open for exhibitions until 2020. As a small substitute, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin hasnow transformed the obligatory site fence into an open-air show featuring exhibits on the iconic building and its creator, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Since the beginning of February, an 80 metre-long panorama of Modernist architecture has been on display along Potsdamer Strasse. This display of rarely exhibited photographs includes pictures showing the steel roof in 1967 being placed on top of the Neue Nationalgalerie, the building’s appearance shortly after its opening in 1968, and the two great men themselves, Mies van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun, meeting at the roofing ceremony. Visitors can also learn about other legendary buildings by the architect, the Kulturforum’s development since 1945, and how the site will look in the future.

How and why is the Neue Nationalgalerie being refurbished? What connects Mies and Berlin? How does the glass-and-steel cuboid fit into the heterogeneous architecture of the Kulturforum? And what contribution will be made by the new building, the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts? Answers to these questions can be found in four blocks of text, written in both German and English.

Seen from a distance, the ‘Neue Nationalgalerie’ logo is clearly legible between the text and pictures. The huge uppercase letters are written in a typeface inspired by the ‘general purpose’ Grotesk font designed by Mies van der Rohe and bearing the gallery’s name on the building’s plinth (currently obscured).

The open-air exhibition was designed by Ute Zscharnt of David Chipperfield Architects – entrusted with refurbishing the Neue Nationalgalerie with the remit ‘as much Mies as possible’.