In 2021, the Berlin State Museums will host special temporary art exhibitions in addition to the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Humboldt Forum.
The cultural highlights in Berlin in 2021 are the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie with its vast collection of twentieth-century art and the opening of the Ethnological and Asian Art museums in the Humboldt Forum (rebuilt Berliner Schloss). However, the Berlin State Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) will also host a variety of special and temporary exhibitions in 2021 that will combine its vast collections with loan items from other museums. Some exhibitions are delayed from 2020 or had opening periods extended.
→ → See also: 2022 — Top Special Exhibitions in Berlin Museums
All Berlin state museums are open in 2023. Time-slot reservations are essential only for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum (closed from October 2023 to 2027!), and Das Panorama. Timeslots are currently released only around four weeks in advance. Buy tickets and make reservations online at GetYourGuide or at SMB. Online tickets for museums without timeslot reservations are skip-the-line — go directly to the entrance to scan the ticket. Many multiple-museum tickets and passes are again accepted. The 3-day Berlin Museum Pass is excellent value.
See Update for Opening Hours of the Berlin State Museums (2023) for the latest information.
Special Temporary Exhibitions in the Berlin State Museums in 2021
Below, in chronological order from the opening date, are the main temporary exhibitions planned by the Berlin State Museums for 2021. The larger exhibitions include the Late Gothic in the Gemäldegalerie, as well as the Egyptian and Iranian exhibitions in the James Simon Gallery on Museum Island.
Claudia Skoda in the Kulturforum
Claudia Skoda. Dressed to Thrill
18 December 2020 to 11 April 2021 in the Kulturforum, Ausstellungshalle
This special exhibition by the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) is on Claudia Skoda, a key figure in fashion design and an icon in the West Berlin Underground Scene of the 1970s and 1980s. This first solo exhibition shows around 200 works by Claudia Skoda and the influences of others such as Martin Kippenberger, Luciano Castelli, Ulrike Ottinger, Tabea Blumenschein, Kraftwerk, and Jim Rakete.
Late Gothic: The Birth of Modernity Exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie
Spätgotik. Aufbruch in die Neuzeit
19 February to 27 June 2021 in the Kulturforum, Gemäldegalerie
This is the first comprehensive exhibition in the German-speaking world on the art of the late Gothic period. It focuses on the changes in art that started in the Netherlands around 1430 with new more natural presentations of light and shades, bodies, and space. Although art remains predominantly of religious significance, increasingly paintings are also seen as artworks separated from the religious purpose.
The exhibition includes around 130 paintings from the 15th century showing the innovation and new art of the late-Gothic period.
Modern Dante in the Museum of Prints and Drawings
Dante modern. Bilder zur Göttlichen Komödie zwischen Erzählung und Zeitkritik
19 March to 1 August 2021 in the Kulturforum, Kupferstichkabinett
To commemorate the 700-years anniversary of the death of the Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the Museum of Prints and Drawings is showing a selection of two woodcut printing series from the 1920s. Both series by Danish artist Ebba Holm and German artists Klaus Wrage are inspired by the Divine Comedy — Dante’s literary masterpiece that involves a journey through hell, purgatory, and to finally arrive in paradise.
Further works are by Odilon Redon, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and Willy Jaeckel, as well as colorful computer images by the Berlin artist Andreas Siekmann (born 1961) on travels through modern hell.
Pablo Picasso in the Museum Berggruen
Pablo Picasso & Les Femmes d’Alger
26 March to 27 June 2021 in the Museum Berggruen
In winter 1954-55, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) painted a long planned response to the by then 73-year-old paintings of Eugène Delacroix on the Woman of Algiers („Die Frauen von Algier“). Over a period of three months, Picasso created a series of 15 oil pantings accompanied by hundred drawings and lithographs.
The series was soon divided and sold throughout the world with the Museum Berggruen in Berlin the only public museum in Europe where a painting from this series is on display in the permanent collection. The exhibition will show paintings and drawings related to the “Femmes d’Alger” series, as well as works by other artists that inspired Picasso, or were inspired by him.
Akhmim — Egypt’s Forgotten City in the James Simon Gallery
Achmîm. Ägyptens vergessene Stadt
21 May to 12 September 2021 in the James-Simon-Galerie on Museumsinsel Berlin
For the first time, the upper Egyptian city Akhmim is the central theme of a special exhibition by the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Sculpture Collection, and the Museum of Byzantine Art in cooperation with the University of Göttingen.
Akhmim, with a history of over 6000 years, is one of the oldest cities from ancient Egypt. Although only archaeological rests remained of the city, the art, statues, reliefs, cultural objects, and funerary treasures are spread through many museums in the world. The State Museums in Berlin has a vast collection that will be enhanced by objects from seven further collections. The exhibition will not only show the art from the city but also its important political, cultural, and religious role in ancient Egypt.
Helmut Newton Exhibition in the Photography Museum
Helmut Newton. One Hundred
4 June 2021 to 23 January 2022 in the Museum für Fotografie
Due to the coronavirus the „Helmut Newton. One Hundred“ missed Newton’s centennial anniversary on 31 October 2021 but will now be presented in the second half of 2021. The Museum for Photography’s Helmut Newton Stiftung will exhibit a selection of his photos and work notes with special emphasis on fashion.
The exhibition of over 300 photos will travel to further European cities starting with the Palazzo Reale in Milan from February 2022.
Re-Opening of Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin 2021
Alexander Calder. Minimal / Maximal
22 August 2021 to 13 February 2022 in the Neue Nationalgalerie
In celebration of the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie after a five-year renovation project, a special exhibition in the glass atrium will feature works by the American artist Alexander Calder. This will include small as well as huge sculptures and moving mobiles.
The Art of the Society, 1900-1945(„Die Kunst der Gesellschaft“) (until July 2022) will be the main exhibition of the Nationalgalerie’s vast collection.
Expect a full cultural program to accompany the re-opening of Berlin’s most important museum of 20th-century art.
Opening of the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in Berlin
Sammlungspräsentation des Ethnologischen Museums und Museums für Asiatische Kunst im Humboldt Forum
From late summer 2020, Humboldt Forum, Ethnologisches Museum + Museum für Asiatische Kunst
The permanent collections of the Ethnological Museum and Museum for Asian Art with around 20,000 items will finally open in late summer 2021 in the 14,000 square meter exhibition halls on the upper floors of the Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss. The collection includes amongst others the famous boats and houses from Oceania, the reconstructed Buddhist caves from the Silk Road, Japanese items with a tea house, and parts of the African collection.
From late 2021, the rest of the collection should be open including items from the Andes and Amazon regions, art from the Khmer, and Islamic art.
Other museums and exhibitions in the Humboldt Forum will open in phases from mid-December 2020.
The Second Glance: Woman in the Bode Museum in 2021
Der zweite Blick: Frauen
From September 2021 in the Bode Museum
The Second Glance (Der zweite Blick) is an integrated special exhibition series of the Sculpture Collection and the Museum of Byzantine Art in the Bode Museum where contemporary issues are looked at through a thematic route leading to a variety of items inside the regular exhibitions of the museum.
The second theme in this series is Woman (Frauen). Whether goddesses, heroines, saints, princesses, mothers, academics, singles, or partners, the histories, personalities, and social importance of a range of historical women are explained in the context of their historical settings through the perspectives of the modern world.
Johann Erdmann Hummel in the Alte Nationalgalerie
Magische Spiegelungen. Johann Erdmann Hummel
October 2021 to Februar 2022 in the Alte Nationalgalerie
A special exhibition on the work of Johann Erdmann Hummel (1769–1852), who was the first professor of optics, perspective, and architecture at the Berliner Akademie der Künste from 1809. He thus influenced many 19th-century artists and architects directly but also produced compositions that already prepared the way for the modern and Neue Sachlichkeit.
André Thomkins in the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection Berlin
October 2021 to January 2022 in the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg
The Swiss artist André Thomkins (1930-1985) loved palindromes („nie reime, da kann akademie rein“ – „Dogma I am God“) and that also influences his views of the world and his approach to art. His surrealist art often combined whit with refined technical experimentation. This special exhibition in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein includes his so-called Scharnierbilder, Lackskins and Rollagen, Permanentszenen and Schwebsel pictures, paintings, drawings, and other objects by Thomkins.
Iran. Art and Culture from Five Millennia
Iran. Kunst und Kultur aus fünf Jahrtausenden
30 October 2021 to 20 February 2022 in the James-Simon-Galerie + Pergamonmuseum
This special exhibition of over 300 objects from the Sarikhani Collection in London and the Museum for Islamic Art Berlin focus on the importance of Iran as a center for cultural exchanges between the Mediterranean Sea, China, and India from the first high cultures three millennia BC to the decline of the Safavid dynasty in the early 18th century.
The exhibition explains the art of the courts and metropolitan elites in chronological order from the pre-Islamic periods of the Achaemenid and Sasanian empires, the creation of a Persian-Islamic culture, and the art of the 9th to 13th centuries, and the glorious period of the Safavid dynasty.
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2023. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum (closed from 23 Oct 2023 until 2027!), and Das Panorama. Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes or multi-museum tickets are again available. Individual museum ticket prices range from €6 to €14 (€20 for special exhibitions). Online tickets are skip-the-line — go directly to the gallery entrance to scan the code.
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museums and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museums: What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- Opening Hours of Berlin State Museums (2023).
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and costs the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for the most popular museums!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums (including all the SMB museums) in three days for €32 – a fantastic savings deal.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English).
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- 2024: Frans Hals in the Gemäldegalerie
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
- Both the Ethnological and Asian Art museums in the Humboldt Forum (Berlin Schloss) are now fully open — admission to both is still free and currently without the need to book a timeslot.
- The Gemäldegallerie is partly closed until September 2023 but at least 75% is open at any given time.
- The Pergamon Museum will be closed completely from 23 October 2023 and partly reopen only in spring 2027 (with the rest to follow by the mid to late 2030s).
More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings.
- Altes Museum with Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art.
- Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldtforum.
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (free admission) with a collection of 19th-century German sculptures.
- Gemäldegalerie with its collection of German and Dutch Old Masters and Italian paintings.
- Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts).
- Musical Instruments Museum near the Berliner Philharmonie.
- Neue Nationalgalerie with early 20th-century art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum will be closed from 23 October 2023 until 2027.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2022 — overview, in the Kulturforum (David Hockney), in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museumsinsel, Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art, and the Museum of Photography.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2021 — including the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as the Ethnological and Asian Art Museums in the Humboldt Forum.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.