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October 2002

Art Debut

The Pinakothek der Moderne - a new home for modern art, design and architecture

The Pinakothek der Moderne, scheduled to open on September 17, unites four separate collections: the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, the Staatliches Museum für angewandte Kunst, the Architektur Museum der Technischen Universität München and the Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst. Showcasing important 20th and 21st-century innovations in painting, sculpture, architecture and design, the collection also includes several earlier, influential works, such as drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. With over 12,000 sq. m of exhibition space, the museum puts Munich on the map as a major center of art.

The project to construct a modern art museum in Munich was launched in the early 1990s. Location and architectural design were selected in 1992, but two years later the Bavarian government put the plan on hold for financial reasons. This decision mobilized the region's art enthusiasts. They established the Pinakothek der Moderne Foundation and negotiated a deal with the government, whereby they would provide DM 20 million (roughly € 10 million) of private funding to help build the museum. In September 1994, officials gave the go-ahead, earmarking DM 200 million in State funds for the project. Within three years the foundation had met its initial financial goal and proceeded to raise an additional DM 10 million. Today the foundation, supported by individual contributions, plays an important role in the operation and maintenance of the museum.

While previous centuries drew distinct boundaries between disciplines, “20th-century art,” explains Joachim Kaak, curator of early 20th-century art, “knows no borders between design and art or between architecture and applied art.” The juxtaposition of the four collections enables visitors to see how they are inter-related components of a larger cultural whole. Early modern art is represented by painters such as Max Beckmann, to whom an entire room is devoted, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso and René Magritte. The work of such later 20th-century artists as Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon are on display here as well. Video installations, photographys and other works by contemporary artists also serve to underline the fluid borders of modern art.

The Staatliche Graphische Sammlung comprises more than 400,000 prints, drawings and works on paper dating from the 15th century to the present. The collection itself was instituted in 1758. From 1948 to 1981 it was housed in the former Nazi administrative headquarters on Königsplatz, a building never intended as an exhibition or conservation space. Relocated to the Neue Pinakothek in 1981, it has now found a permanent home in the Pinakothek der Moderne. Since the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung and the Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst have organized acquistions and joint exhibitions on 20th-century art for years, bringing them together under one roof was a natural development.

Offering insight into architectural history and current trends, the Architecture Museum's vast collection of over 450,000 drawings, photographs and models is the largest of its kind in Germany. Though the main focus is on German architecture in the 19th and 20th centuries, the oldest drawings and models in the collection date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

British artist David Gammon's futuristic phonograph, Mario Botta's sleek silver pitchers and Ettore Sottsass' Murano glass vase are just a few of the diverse items to be seen in the Pinakothek der Moderne's permanent collection of applied art. The fields of industrial and graphic design along with arts and crafts are made uniquely accessible in the world's largest public collection of its kind. Metalwork, ceramics and glasswork as well as textile and furniture design are exhibited alongside innovative technological creations, making this a fascinating part of the museum.

Rather than construct a work of art himself, architect Stefan Braunfels opted for a more reserved style that would draw attention to the works on display. The premises are spacious and the ground-floor rotunda that serves as the central entrance area is stunning. Braunfels envisioned the Pinakothek der Moderne as the gateway to Munich's “Museum Mile,” consisting of the neoclassical Glyptothek, the Lenbachhaus and the three Pinakotheks. Braunfels' design, which was selected from among 140 proposals, will be exhibited along with 30 other entries at the Architektur Galerie, Türkenstrasse 30, until November 9.

Naturally, many exciting and innovative exhibitions are scheduled to be held at the Pinakothek der Moderne. New acquistions are under consideration and starting next year several exhibitions focusing on specific themes will give the four branches of the museum an opportunity to collaborate. Kaak points out that for now, however, it is the museum itself, "a wonderful, leading collection of remarkable quality that is being celebrated."

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