In 1962 the Berlin Senate commissioned Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 - 1969) to build a museum in the city to house 20th-century art. The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery), constructed 1965-68, was the only building erected by the architect in Germany during the post-war period. The museum is a landmark of modern architecture and is listed as a protected monument by the State of Berlin.
No major work has been done on the building since it opened in 1968 almost 50 years ago. 2015 marks the beginning of a four-year project of refurbishment and modernisation, the contract having been awarded to David Chipperfield Architects in 2012. Founded by David Chipperfield in 1985, with offices in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai, the company specialises inter alia in cultural projects. Chipperfield headed the reconstruction of Berlin’s Neues Museum (New Museum) on the Museumsinsel Berlin (Museum Island), which re-opened in 2009, and designed the James Simon Gallery, currently under construction there.
The aim of the Neue Nationalgalerie refurbishment project is to repair all damaged features and correct serious safety deficits. Works include fire-prevention measures, renovation of the entire exterior, removal of the root cause of glass breakage, an overhaul of the concrete shell and the renewal of building technology. The building must also meet the requirements of a modern museum with regard to issues such as air conditioning, safety, lighting, storage functions and visitor services.
The managers of this major repair project will liaise closely with the Landesdenkmalamt (Berlin Office for Monument Protection). The common goal is to preserve the visual aspect of the building and retain as much of the historical structure as possible. As refurbishment cannot take place during opening hours, the museum will be closed for the duration of works.
Construction is expected to be completed in April 2021. The building will reopen a few months after the finalised construction handover has taken place.