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Anton Puchegger's 'Portrait of Missie the Chimpanzee', lost in the war, now returned to the Alte Nationalgalerie

02.12.2014
Alte Nationalgalerie

The Nationalgalerie is delighted to announce that the sculpture 'Portrait of Missie the Chimpanzee’ by Anton Puchegger has been returned to the museum. The 1916/17 work marks a highpoint in post-turn-of-the-century wooden sculpture and was thought to have been lost in a fire in the Second World War. Before it went missing, 'Missie’ was loaned to Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten. It wasn’t until 2011 that research, conducted in preparation for an exhibition by Berlin’s Bröhan Museum, revealed that the unsigned work had survived virtually intact in an area of the zoo closed to the public. It transpires that from 1957, by the latest, the sculpture had been on display in the official home of the zoo’s director Heinz-Georg Klös (1926-2014), whose family admired the work and took care of it.

In the chaos during and immediately after the Second World War, museum staff lost track of the circumstances of its ownership in the large-scale destruction of both the zoo and the museum buildings. In 2014 research by the Staatliche Museen’s Zentralarchiv successfully identified 'Missie the Chimpanzee’ as the property of the SMB’s Nationalgalerie. As a result, the wooden sculpture was  returned to the Alte Nationalgalerie and has since been carefully cleaned and undergone conservation and minor restoration treatments. The work is now on display in a prominent position on the staircase of the Alte Nationalgalerie on the Museum Island.