Field Trip Friday: Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne

Hae-In, OHNY’s Program & Education Coordinator, recently took a trip to Germany, stopping in Berlin, Nuremberg, Füssen and Munich. Today’s post focuses on the Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich. The museum is the most recent addition to Munich’s three big art museum cluster (along with the Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek), and is part of Munich’s “Kunstareal” or “art district.”

museum exterior

Designed by German architect Stephan Braunfels, the Pinakothek der Moderne was completed in 2002 after seven years of construction. The minimalist white and gray concrete facade is dominated by large windows and narrow columns. The four corners of the building meet in a central rotunda and each corner is dedicated to a special collection.

design wall display

The Museum unites four different collections and is divided into Art (Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst) with paintings, sculpture, photography, and video; Architecture (Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität) with architectural drawings, photographs, and models; Design (Die Neue Sammlung) highlighting design and craftwork; and Works on Paper (Staatliche Grapische Sammlung) with an extensive collection of prints and drawings.

Ron Arad TW3 rocking chair

With around 70,000 objects, the “Neue Sammlung”or design section is one of the world’s leading collections of 20th century applied art and industrial design. Located in the basement level, the exhibit starts with an immense wall of items displayed floating in separate units (see above) and is a wonderful introduction to the collection. TW3 rocking chairs, designed by Ron Arad, welcome you to sit down!

exhibit of cars

There is also a dramatic display of motorcycles and automobiles, including early model Porches. Items range from Art Nouveau furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Bauhaus shelving units to a collection of typewriters and computers that chronicles the rise of our modern computer culture.

chair design

The concept of a modern art museum in Munich began in the 1990’s and although the site and design were selected by 1992, the plan was put on hold by the Bavarian government for financial reasons. Supporters set up the Pinakothek der Moderne Foundation and provided 20 million+ Deutsche Marks (about 10 million Euros) of private funding to help build the museum. In September 1994 the project received the green light with additional state funds to help the foundation reach its goals. The foundation, supported by individual contributions, still plays an important role in the operation and maintenance of the museum today.

vases, bowls and other objects displayed

Instituted in 1758, the “Staatliche Graphische Sammlung” collection has more than 400,000 prints, drawings and works on paper dating from the 15th century to the present. It was housed in former Nazi administrative headquarters on Königsplatz, from 1948 to 1981, but this was never intended to be used as an exhibition or conservation space. It was moved to the Neue Pinakothek in 1981 before finding a permanent home at the Pinakothek der Moderne.

artwork of Max Beckman

The museum also has a wonderful collection of early modern art, with a whole room dedicated to painter Max Beckmann, as well as works by Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso and René Magritte and many masterpieces of German Expressionism. Later 20th-century work by Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon are also here, and installations by Joseph Beuys and Dan Flavin round out the contemporary exhibit.

river surfing on the Eisbach, a small canal that flows through the Englisher Garten (near the museum)

The Pinakothek der Moderne houses a great collection of modern art and design, beautifully and creatively displayed in it’s 12,000 square meters of exhibition space, and is definitely worth checking out when you are in Munich.

Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Straße 40
80333 München

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