The new Pinakothek der Moderne opens in Munich (2002)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - design | 14 October 2010
This review first appeared in Azure magazine, March/April 2003, p. 37.

The new Pinakothek der Moderne opens in Munich

Sometimes good things do come to those who wait. Munich’s new Pinakothek der Moderne opened its doors last September, bringing together under one roof four major collections. Focused on the 20th and 21st centuries, the museum collection includes artwork, as well as works on paper, design and architecture. Years in the planning, the Pinakothek der Moderne succeeds in providing suitable exhibition space for a wide range of objects that, until now, lacked proper homes.

The previous exhibition space for the architecture collection was destroyed in World War II and had never been replaced. The enormous design collection, Neue Sammlung, grew out of the Deutsche Werkbund, an alliance of designers, retailers and manufacturers, founded in Munich in 1907. The collection now includes approximately 60,000 design objects, from early modern to contemporary—probably the largest design collection in the world.

Designed by Munich-based architect Stephan Braunfels, the 33,000 sq. m. complex is spatially organized like an interlocking rectangular 3-D puzzle. It features a central rotunda, with entrances to four independent medium-specific exhibition spaces, which, in turn, lead visitors back into the rotunda. Braunfels’ design took into account the building’s location adjacent to the Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek museums, which showcase art from the 14th to 19th centuries. The Pinakothek der Moderne’s main entrance faces the two other museums to the northwest, with another entrance on the southeast, pointing toward the city centre. The entrances are connected by an interior passageway, set along a diagonal axis that intersects the museum at ground level, and enables visitors to walk through it to the other museums.

From the ground-level rotunda, stairways lead up and down to the art and design collections, respectively; adding further diagonals and drama to the rotunda. Moving downward from the rotunda into the design area, visitors confront the museum’s magnificent Design Vision wall (1900-2002), featuring key items from the collection.

As an example of the diversity a visitor can expect, the opening exhibitions included bentwood furniture in the museum’s Chair Room and an exhibit on 20th-century architecture with over 50 drawings, maquettes and other documentation from the collection. On the art front, the Starting Line exhibit featured works by Pipilotti Rist, Rineke Dijkstra, Johan Grimonprez and others.