Berlin Museum of Modern Art to Open in 2021

But to meet the deadline, all parties need to put their differences aside.

Berlin's new modern and contemporary art museum is to be built behind the existing Neue Nationalgalerie Photo: Harald Kliems via Wikimedia Commons

President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, has announced that Berlin’s Museum of Modern Art will open no later than 2021. Speaking to the DPA, he said, “It is an ambitious goal, but I am optimistic that we can make it.” Most important in reaching that goal, he suggested, was a higher level of unity among the political and cultural partners behind the project who have, at times, found themselves at odds.

In November, the project’s biggest hurdle was cleared when the federal government approved a €200 million appropriation to fund the construction of the new museum (see €200 Million Appropriation Clears Way for Berlin MoMA). Plans for the museum have been the subject of controversy for several years, with political factions and art world figures fiercely debating where it should be located.

Some would have liked to see the modern art museum on Berlin’s Museum Island. However, the government and Parzinger’s organization eventually settled on it being located in the so-called Kulturforum. The foundation president confirmed to the DPA that the building would in fact be placed on a strip of land between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Berlin Philharmonic that was previously intended to be reclaimed as green space.

An International Competition

Parzinger confirmed that an international competition would be held to determine who would design and construct the new museum’s building. He noted that a successful design won’t necessarily try to compete with the Nationalgalerie’s Mies van der Rohe structure—currently under renovation by David Chipperfield Architects until at least 2019 (see Kraftwerk Performance Closes Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie)—or the Philharmonic’s Hans Scharoun-designed hall. “The challenge,” Parzinger told the news agency, “is to tie the site together with an attractive building and to create a new whole.”

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and Nationalgalerie director Udo Kittelmann had long campaigned for a new museum to house the nation’s collection of 20th century art. Even before its close for renovations, the Neue Nationalgalerie only allowed for 20–30 percent of that collection to be on view at any one time. However, it wasn’t until German businessman Heiner Pietzsch and his wife Ulla Pietzsch donated 150 pieces from their collection of surrealist and modern masterworks—including pieces by René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst—that the the museum began to become a reality, as they demanded that the works be placed on public view, should the gift be accepted.


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