The greatest European painters are represented in Berlin's Gemäldegalerie. This gallery within the Kulturforum (Culture Forum) displays priceless paintings from the Middle Ages and the early modernist period: works by Rubens, Biblical motifs by Botticelli or astonishingly vibrant portraits by Albrecht Dürer.
Art in the best light
The Gemäldegalerie opens in 1830. From the outset, visitors can see masterpieces here, including works by great artists such as Rembrandt and Botticelli. The collection loses many of its pieces to fire and misplacement during World War II, and with the division of Berlin, the Gemäldegalerie collection is also separated. Today, it's been reunited in the new museum building at the Kulturforum. The Museum showcases a permanent collection of 1,400 artworks. A tour takes you across more than two kilometres, featuring 18 rooms and 41 cabinets. The gallery has a simple and modern design, and every room has a different coloured wall, providing the perfect background for the paintings. All rooms lead to the central foyer, which features a water installation by Walter De Maria. This central space is perfect for a short meditative rest.
Take a look at the ceilings in each room: you will notice that all the paintings are lit only by daylight, so the artworks almost appear to radiate their own light. One of these works is 'Amor Vincit Omnia' by Caravaggio; the winged boy is typical of the style of this master. Or 'Madonna in the Church' by Jan van Eyck: the Madonna, clothed in a crown and fine dress, bears the baby Jesus in a Gothic church. The painting with two monkeys is also famous. They sit chained, looking down upon a 16th-century port. The painting's creator was Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and it is entitled 'Two Chained Monkeys'. Even today, art critics are undecided over its meaning. Take time to see the famous paintings by Sandro Botticelli. Many of the women in his paintings are reminiscent of one of his most famous works, the 'Birth of Venus'. The same applies to the image 'Madonna with Child', and 'The Virgin and Child Enthroned'. Thomas Gainsborough captures the vitality of children in his portrait of the four Marsham siblings in 'The Marsham Children'. Try to decipher Bruegel's 'The Netherlandish Proverbs' - around 100 sayings are depicted in the painting. In the Gemäldegalerie, you also have the unique opportunity to see a work by Georges de La Tour. 'Peasant Couple Eating' is the only one of his works to hang in a German museum. One of the most famous paintings in the collection is 'The Man with the Golden Helmet'. Long considered one of Rembrandt's masterpieces, scholars now believe that it is in fact the work of another painter from his circle.
Unique treasures of the Gemäldegalerie
- 'Amor Vincit Omnia' by Caravaggio (1602)
- Vermeer's 'Woman with a Pearl Necklace' (circa 1663)
- The Rubens Hall including 'Perseus Frees Andromeda' (1620)
- The most important collection of Botticelli's work outside of Italy
- 'The Man with the Golden Helmet'
See more art from the middle ages to modernity
Amongst the sand-coloured buildings of the Kulturforum, you will find the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), Germany's largest collection of graphic art. View over 500,000 prints and 110,000 drawings, sketches and pictures, including medieval book illustrations. In the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) next door, there's gold and silverware, filigree-embroidered clothes and industrial design furniture. Only a short walk from the Kulturforum, you can see abstract geometrical works at the Daimler Art Collection at Potsdamer Platz. The Haus am Lützowplatz shows contemporary art behind its baroque façade. On the other side of the River Spree, the Bahaus Archive displays the world's most comprehensive collection of works and documents from the Bauhaus Movement.
Our tips for your visit
You have plenty of time to see the gallery on Thursdays, when the museum is open until 20:00. Take the tour 'Art in the Evening', which has various thematic focuses, while groups can join the 60 minute 'Best of the Gallery' tour, which provides a good overview. With a Berlin Museum Pass, you can visit the museum for free on three consecutive days. Children and young people under 18 generally enter free of charge to all State Museums. Please register in advance for large group visits. For children, there are additional guided tours. The Gemäldegalerie is just 700m from Potsdamer Platz. You can reach it by public transport. The underground line U2 stops here, as do S-Bahn lines S1, S2 and S25. The buses M48 and M85 will take you directly to the Kulturforum. If you are travelling by car, there are car parks at the Sony Centre and Potsdamer Platz Arkaden.
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