17.02.2021 At the beginning of the 20th century, the Tiergarten Quarter was an attractive residential area and a creative hub in Berlin. Many industrialists, publishers, gallerists, art collectors and patrons lived and worked here alongside numerous artists. Local salons shaped social life in the city. With a commemorative panel at the Gemäldegalerie, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin remembers the personalities who contributed to this historically significant era.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Tiergarten Quarter was an attractive residential area and a creative hub in Berlin. Many industrialists, publishers, gallerists, art collectors and patrons lived and worked here alongside numerous artists. Local salons shaped social life in the city. With a commemorative panel at the Gemäldegalerie, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin remembers the personalities who contributed to this historically significant era.
By the mid-19th century, Berlin’s Tiergarten Quarter had started to develop from a summer retreat site positioned at the gates to the city’s heart into a preferred residential area for Berlin’s middle-class. A concentration of buildings by prominent architects, such as Martin Gropius and Alfred Messel, was erected close to the bustling Potsdamer Platz. More than 60 embassies and consulates and large administrative buildings opened in the district from 1888 to 1930 alone. Simultaneously, numerous multi-storey residential and apartment buildings sprung up around the St. Matthäus-Kirche (St. Matthew’s Church), while many villas with spacious gardens were built along Tiergartenstraße.
Besides major industrialists, intellectuals and others working in the arts ‒ often on lower incomes ‒ could also find places to live. Representatives from diverse social classes met in the popular salons of Hedwig Dohm, Marie von Olfers, and Cornelie Richter.
Many prominent personalities lived in the Tiergarten Quarter – including the artists Georg Kolbe, Adolph von Menzel, Max Liebermann, Lucian Bernhard, Tilla Durieux, and Anton von Werner. Academics, such as Max J. Friedländer and Ernst Curtius, lived here, as did writers Julius Elias and Carl Zuckmayer and the poet Else Lasker-Schüler.
The cousins Bruno Cassirer and Paul Cassirer opened their gallery in the quarter, and in 1913 Herwarth Walden organised the Erster Deutschen Herbstsalon (First German Autumn Salon) in Potsdamer Straße ‒ one of the most important exhibitions of modern art in Europe at that time. Affluent entrepreneurs, art collectors and patrons ‒ such as Eduard Arnhold, Oscar Huldschinsky, Valentin Weisbach, Franz and Frieda von Lipperheide, Eduard Simon and James Simon ‒ owned houses here.
Only a hint of the impressive history, representative splendour and lively spirit of the Tiergarten Quarter’s past survives today in the form of a few buildings that were preserved and rebuilt: for instance, the St. Matthäus-Kirche at the centre of the locality, the Villa Gontard on Stauffenbergstraße – now the General Directorate headquarters of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – and the Villa Parey, integrated into the new building for the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings), which reopened at this location in 1998.
Air raids that began in 1943 largely destroyed the quarter. Even before the Second World War, the National Socialists had started to expropriate and tear down numerous buildings, often those of Jewish owners, as part of their plans for the “north-south axis” of the “Reichshauptstadt Germania”. Countless Tiergarten Quarter residents and their extended families were forced into emigration, deported, or murdered under the National Socialist dictatorship.
The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin remembers with great gratitude the Tiergarten Quarter’s former residents with a commemorative panel. Located on Sigismundstraße, near Hitzigallee (formerly Regentenstraße), close to the Villa Parey, which now merges with the façade of the Gemäldegalerie, this panel recalls the social, societal, and engaged patronage with which these individuals greatly enriched the social fabric of city life in Berlin as well as the collections of the Berlin museums.
Alongside the Berliner Philharmonie, the Staatsbibliothek (Berlin State Library), the Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Museum of Musical Instruments), and the Kammermusiksaal (Chamber Music Hall), there are now many museums, study areas and reading rooms, as well as other institutions, located in the area around the Kulturforum. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin operates its second-largest ensemble location (after the Museumsinsel Berlin) in the Tiergarten Quarter with the venues of the Neue Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), Kunstbibliothek (Art Library), and Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), The Nationalgalerie’s Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, dedicated to 20th-century art and designed by the architectural offices of the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, is now being built here.