Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Museum of the 20th Century


The groundbreaking ceremony for the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts (Museum of the 20th Century) took place today, attended by Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin. The event at the construction site of the Kulturforum located on Potsdamer Straße is a milestone in the realisation process of the new structure.

Monika Grütters explained that “with the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, a location is being established in the heart of the capital that reflects the defining experiences of the last century, including all of its upheavals, abysses and high points, in the mirror of art. The venue will finally be able to provide the space deserved by the Nationalgalerie’s spectacular 20th century holdings and works generously entrusted it its care from the collections of Erich Marx, Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch, and Egidio Marzona. Herzog & de Meuron’s exceptional architecture will transform the Kulturforum into what it should always have been: a lively place for cultural exchange and social discourse”.

Michael Müller stated: “The cultural metropolis of Berlin is thrilled that today’s groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of construction on this important cultural project in the midst of our city. This intensively discussed undertaking in the name of 20th century art constitutes another major treasure enriching Berlin and making it even more attractive to our guests from around the world. A newly arranged exhibition of modern artworks will shed light on the eventful history of this complex century. The Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts represents a major and transformative step forward in the further development of the Kulturforum. Berlin would like to thank the federal government for this significant gesture of commitment to the cultural life of its capital Berlin.

Hermann Parzinger, president of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the commissioning client, sees this day as an irreversible moment in the realisation of the project: “Through our mutual efforts, we have come considerably closer to our goal of creating a worthy venue in Berlin to show its superb 20th century art. I would like to thank Minister of Culture Monika Grütters for her great commitment and the German parliament for its support, and am delighted the potential of Berlin’s collections and the opportunities for the city as a museum location have been recognised. After a sheer endless struggle to find an urban planning solution for the Kulturforum, the realisation of Herzog & de Meuron’s design will finally bring about a venue that makes the setting into a genuine forum, an urban space for viewing art, for encounters and for debate.”

Architect Jacques Herzog explained: “The building for the 20th century art collection has been conceived for this specific location in Berlin. It is also a piece of the city covered by a roof – a boulevard crossing where everyday life, artistic experiments, performances and public debates intersect, intermix and invigorate one another. The shape of the building requires no pomp or excessive sculptural gesture. A large roof, along with the structure’s archaic and to this day topical as well as obviously provocative form seems particularly suitable. The building asserts itself, especially in this unique proximity to Mies van der Rohe and Scharoun, of course without boasting, but also without concealing itself. We have carefully calculated the costs and deadlines in collaboration with the contracting authorities, the Bundesbau Baden-Württemberg and the SPK. We all look forward to achieving the aims of the current state of planning.”

The cost calculation is based on construction costs of 364.2 million euros, in addition to 52.2 million euros for future increases in the construction cost index and 33.8 million euros for risk costs. Completion is scheduled for 2026.

Udo Kittelmann, director of the Nationalgalerie, emphasised the day’s importance: “A long-held dream is coming true. The Nationalgalerie’s collection will finally have an appropriate venue at its disposal and be able to present its collections to the world. This is an important step for the Nationalgalerie and for Berlin as a cultural centre, as well as an explicit and forward-looking commitment to Germany as a cultural nation.”

The next course of the project involves the following steps: The current preliminary design is under review. Subsequent implementation planning will include further refinements and a detailing of the design. Preparatory measures are to be undertaken at the construction site before excavation of the foundation pit can begin.