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Neue Nationalgalerie
Photograph: Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe / VG-Bildkunst Bonn, 2021 / David von Becker

This modern art museum just got a new look – and it’s peak Berlin

After a six-year refurb, modernist landmark Neue Nationalgalerie is finally welcoming the public again

Written by
Sophie Dickinson
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Thought Berlin had enough museums? Think again. Another new gallery has opened in the city, just weeks after the controversial Humboldt Forum welcomed visitors for the first time. The Neue Nationalgalerie is also back after a six-year revamp – so art lovers in the German capital are even more spoilt for choice.

The iconic building, built in 1968, is a work of art in itself and a key example of modernist architecture. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was behind the structure, and the present-day team have apparently laboured to keep the renovation in line with the original plans.

With the upgrades coming in at around €140 million (£120 million or $165 million), you’d hope they’d done more than just change the carpets. And they have. Wrapped in glass panels and framed by a black grid, it now looks a whole lot sleeker, moodier – and very, very Berlin. 

Neue Nationalgalerie
Photograph: BBR / Marcus Ebener / Ludwig Mies van der Rohe / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021

While the Humboldt Forum grapples with its colonial legacy, the Neue Nationalgalerie is working to set itself apart from all the other heritage destinations in the city. Director Joachim Jäger said the refurb had allowed museum staff to start a ‘review of the architecture, and of the collection’.

There are four new exhibitions opening in the space. Visitors can book to see Alexander Calder’s geometric sculptures; ‘In a Perpetual Now’, a solo exhibition by Berlin-based cinematographer Rosa Barba; or ‘The Art of Society’, a retrospective of German painting from 1900 to 1945.

If it’s the building itself that interests you? You can find out more at ‘The Neue Nationalgalerie: Its Architect and Its Building History’. As you might guess, this show covers the museum’s history from inception to the present day. Whether or not you’re an architecture buff, we reckon that’ll make for a very fine day out indeed.

Planning an educational day out in the German capital? These are the ten absolute best museums in Berlin according to us.

Plus: here are the 16 best things to do in Berlin right now.

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