Angela Merkel Skips Donald Trump’s Inauguration for a Museum Visit

She checked out the Barberini Museum opening instead.

Facade of the Museum Barberini in Potsdam. Photo: Helge Mundt, courtesy Museum Barberini
Facade of the Museum Barberini in Potsdam. Photo: Helge Mundt, courtesy Museum Barberini

Angela Merkel won’t be tuning in to Donald Trump’s inauguration today; she’s choosing to look at art instead. The German chancellor is amongst the guests scheduled to attend the opening of tech billionaire Hasso Plattner’s privately owned Barberini Museum in Potsdam.

Plattner, co-founder of the software giant SAP, invested over €60 million into the painstaking reconstruction of the historic baroque palace originally built in 1771 by Frederick the Great in the heart of Potsdam, outside of Berlin. It was later destroyed in an allied bombing raid in 1945.

The new private museum features a replica of the historic facade with a state-of-the-art interior spanning 4,000 square meters of exhibition space.

According to the Barberini’s website, the inaugural exhibition, titled “Impressionism: The Art of Landscape,” features works from Plattner’s personal collection, augmented by key loans from institutions and other private collections.

The show is slated to include works by the likes of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Liebermann, and Edvard Munch’s Girls on a Bridge, which sold for $54.2 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2016.

Hasso Plattner at the preview of the Barberini Museum, Potsdam. Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images.

Hasso Plattner at the preview of the Barberini Museum, Potsdam. Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images.

According to the Guardian, the opening will finally mark the completion of the project that sputtered at almost every stage of its construction and faced years of difficulties, ranging from disputes over the museum’s location at its initial planning stage to the billionaire’s choice of works to exhibit.

Plattner was also a vocal critic of the German government’s cultural heritage protection legislation, which places severe restrictions on the sale of key artworks outside of Germany. The billionaire compared the regulations to expropriation and threatened to retract his pledge to bequeath his collection and the museum to the state, although he did not act on his threat after reaching a fragile compromise with the German cultural ministry.

Speaking to the Guardian, Plattner described the uphill battle he faced while turning his philanthropic vision into reality. “I can only put it down to the character flaw of jealousy and envy in us Germans. People originally told me to shut up, we don’t need another museum. But I hope the doubters will soon see what it gives to the city by bringing art lovers here in their droves as well as putting the finishing touches to recreating the historic centre of Potsdam.”


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