Form versus Function: Mies and the Museum. Colloquium on the major renovations of the Neue Nationalgalerie

Neue Nationalgalerie

On 27 and 28 November 2014, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin organized a scholarly colloquium that addressed the historical renovation planned for the Neue Nationalgalerie by David Chipperfield Architects and the importance of Mies van der Rohe's building in the history of architecture. To an audience of some 400 guests, a panel of architects, artists, historic preservationists, and curators delivered speeches on the building's dual role as both an iconic monument and a living art museum of the highest calibre.

The British architect David Chipperfield set out the basic ideas behind the construction work. His speech was followed by talks delivered by Alexander Black, Martin Reichert, and other architects from the Berlin office that detailed the complex building project, from both a structural and methodological perspective by way of case studies. The highlight of the event was the impressive and very personal account given by Van der Rohe's grandson and original project manager, Dirk Lohan, who recounted his experiences of the planning and construction process of the Neue Nationalgalerie in the 1960s.

Other presentations tackled the aesthetic and museum-specific factors of the exhibition building (Joachim Jäger, head of the Neue Nationalgalerie), its cultural significance (Beatriz Colomina), its place in architectural theory (Fritz Neumeyer), and the role of heritage conservation (Kerstin Englert). The moderators for the day were Lothar Fehn Krestas from the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning and Claudia Perren, director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.