The Unification of a Collection

The true extent of the wealth of artworks owned by the National Gallery in Berlin is to be revealed as never before. From March 2010 onwards, paintings and sculptures from the classical modernist period up to 1945 will go on display to the public. This will be followed by a second show featuring works from the period after the Second World War. There are few other museums where history has played as instrumental a role in shaping the collection as it has done in the National Gallery in Berlin. Most damaging of all in the pre-war years was the splintering of the collection by the Nazi campaign against ‘Degenerate Art’ in 1937. Countless Expressionist masterpieces are still sorely missed to this day. The most important of these lost key works will be integrated into the great showcase of the collection in March in the form of a ‘shadow gallery’. The partition of Germany also manifested itself in the differing strategies adopted in maintaining the collection: while in West Berlin the formal innovations of various avant-garde trends came to the forefront, in the East Berlin National Gallery, the emphasis lay firmly on the art’s content. The merger of the two collections resulted in several groups of works complementing each other. The collection of the National Gallery is divided betweeen the Old National Gallery, the New National Gallery, the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, the Museum Berggruen, the Collection Scharf-Gerstenberg and the Friedrichswerder Church.