Letter to the editor: there is a bigger picture with the Gemäldegalerie
The plan to move the Old Masters from the Gemäldegalerie is part of a global and long-term masterplan to reorganise Berlin’s collection
By The Art Newspaper readers. Web only
Published online: 30 August 2012
The plan to move the Old Masters from the Gemäldegalerie was not a spontaneous decision stimulated by the Berlin-based Pietzsch's donation of their art collection, but rather part of a global and long-term masterplan to reorganise Berlin’s collection, which once belonged to Prussia (now taken care of by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation).
It is well known that Prussia’s rich collection was divided when Berlin was divided. After the reunification of Germany, the collections also had to be reunited, so the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation started working on the reunification of the collection, and this work still continues.
It is not difficult to imagine the vast scope of the reorganisation of the whole collection of Berlin’s museums. For example, the Egyptian collection, temporarily housed in the West in the Charlottenburg Palace, moved first to the Altes Museum before being moved back again to the Neues Museum, which reopened in 2009 after almost 20 years of restoration work.
Originally the Old Masters were housed in the Bode Museum from where they moved to their current location in the Kulturforum. Now the long-term plan of the foundation is to make the Museum Island into an area for museums showing Classical art (including Roman and Greek, as well as Middle Eastern and Egyptian works), while making the Kulturforum into an area dedicated to Modern art museums (which is why the Pietzsch collection should come to the Kulturforum).
Therefore, it is quite logical to see the Old Masters go back to the Bode Museum on the Museum Island, from where they came. Of course, I admit that the logistics of when and how should be the subject of debate, and I believe that those who protest have a point. However, one should not forget that this move is indeed only part of a bigger plan, made with a long-term vision for Berlin’s museums, and not just to make space for the Pietzsch collection of Modern art.
—Junhi Han, Paris
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