Can “Poor But Sexy” Berlin Afford a MoMA of Its Own? A New Petition Outlines Doubts

They fear that the city will not be able to afford the Herzog & de Meuron-designed museum.

A group of architects and writers are demanding a public discussion on the future of Berlin’s Kulturforum take place in anticipation of the construction of the controversial Museum of Modern Art.

Penned by Dr. h.c. Kristin Feireiss, of the Berlin-based Aedes Architekturforum, a petition outlining the initiative #forumskultur:kulturforum has reached over 500 signatures.

The museum, set to be built in the center of the Kulturforum—a collection of museums that includes Mies van der Rohe’s New National Gallery, the Kunstbibliothek art library, and neighboring the Hans Scharoun-designed Philharmonic—has been controversial from the outset.

Herzog & de Meuron won a second competition, after the initial one hailed no winner.

The initiative is not necessarily against the new museum, but it does push for a critical public discussion about it before plans go ahead.

Berlin’s city planning is notorious for long delays and budget issues, from the failed Berlin Brandenburg Airport, to the Berlin State Opera, which began renovations in 2010 with an original projected reopening date of 2013. It is now set to finally open this fall.

Petitioners call for an image of the design to be displayed at the construction site. They also would like to see a life-size model of the museum, made using a process called Baugespann, a convention in Swiss architecture that would allow the public to visualize how the building will interact with its surroundings before actual construction begins.

It also asks for a transparent financial plan because, citing the opinion of financial experts, the proposed €200 million budget is not enough to cover the project.

Signatories of the petition include artists, architects, writers, professors, and members of Berlin-based foundations, like Bernhard Schneider of the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin.

That association previously published its own letter in response to the museum, arguing that it should be better integrated with the surrounding Kulturforum, potentially by reorienting the design.

Aedes Architekturforum did not respond to artnet News’ request for comment.

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