2023: Berlin Kulturforum Museums Special Temporary Exhibitions

In 2023, special temporary exhibitions of the museums in the Kulturforum Berlin include Hugo van der Goes, Dürer, film posters, and UFOs.

Hugo van der Goes Marientod 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Musea Brugge, www.artinflanders.be / Dominique Provost

The museums in the Kulturforum in Berlin have wonderful permanent collections but also arrange superb temporary exhibitions using works from their own collections and loan materials. The Albrecht Dürer exhibition (prints and drawings) of the Kupferstichkabinett and the Hugo van der Goes exhibition of the Gemäldegalerie are the most likely visitor magnets for 2023. However, other interesting exhibitions include reports on a UFO sighting in 1665, the dream views of design in the socialist eastern block during the Cold War, over a century of film posters, and the role women played in Italian art. Online skip-the-line tickets are required to visit the Gemäldegalerie and Neue Nationalgalerie.

Exhibitions in the Berlin Kulturforum Museums in 2023

The Berlin State Museums in the Kulturforum Berlin include the Gemäldegalerie (Old Masters Paintings), Kunstgerwerbemuseum (Applied Arts), Kupferstichkabinett (Prints and Drawings), and Kunstbibliothek (Art Library). The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) is also in the Kulturforum but see Special Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in 2023 for more information on this large gallery of mostly 20th-century art.

Timeslot tickets are required for the Gemäldegalerie and Neue Nationalgalerie while online tickets are also available for the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Kupferstichkabinett, and Kunstbibliothek through SMB. All online tickets allow visitors to skip the line and go directly to the gallery entrance to scan printouts or mobile tickets. Ticket prices range from €6 to €20 depending on the temporary exhibition.

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Temporary Exhibitions in the Gemäldegalerie Berlin in 2023

Until 8 January 2023, visitors may enjoy the special Donatello. Founder of the Renaissance and Dürer for the Nation exhibitions in the Kulturforum. The other exhibitions in 2023 will be somewhat lower-key but still promise specialists’ knowledge of the themes.

Until late 2023, at least a quarter of the Gemäldegalerie will be closed for installing a new light system — ticket prices were reduced. The following are the final halls that will be closed during 2023:

  • 4 October 2022 to 11 March 2023 — German and Dutch paintings from the 13th to 16th centuries (Hall I – V, Cabinet 1 – 5)
  • 13 March 2023 to 16 September 2023 — Italian paintings from the 13th to 16th centuries (Hall XV – XVIII, Cabinet 29 – 41)

Hugo van der Goes. Between Pain and Bliss

Hugo van der Goes, Marientod2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Musea Brugge, www.artinflanders.be / Dominique Provost

31 March – 16 July 2023 in the Gemäldegalerie, Kulturforum Berlin

Hugo van der Goes (ca. 1440–1482/83) was one of the most important European artists of the early modern period. At once emotive and intimate, his monumental compositions are among the highlights of the collections to which they now belong. But unlike most of the other great artists of his epoch, this Flemish master has never been honored with a dedicated exhibition of his own. To rectify this, Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie is gathering together the majority of his surviving oeuvre. The juxtaposition of his paintings and drawings will make this exhibition an extraordinary and unique visual experience.

On top of this, the exhibition will shed light on a number of other aspects about the life of this master. For example, the fact that van der Goes abruptly abandoned his successful career in Ghent after almost 10 years to join a cloister, along with the severe mental illness that plagued him in his later life. In his life and his work, pain and bliss can often be found side by side.

Hugo van der Goes. Zwischen Schmerz und Seligkeit — A special exhibition of the Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kupferstichkabinett Exhibitions in the Berlin Kulturforum in 2023

The Kupferstichkabinett in the Kulturforum has one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the world. The sensitivity of these works allows only for temporary exhibitions and the displays are often sensational. Temporary exhibitions are either in the Kupferstichkabinett building or in the exhibition hall (Sonderausstellungshalle) of the Kulturforum — lower level below the Gemäldegalerie.

Muse or Maestra? Women in the Italian Art World 1400–1800

Rosalba Giovanna Carriera 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© bpk / Kupferstichkabinett, SMB / Jörg P

8 March – 4 June 2023 in the Kupferstichkabinett, Kulturforum Berlin

Through their art, they outshone their fathers, brothers, and husbands. They created oeuvres that were sought after right across Europe, they knew how to market themselves, how to network, and were emulated by other artists. They collected art and supported artists. Women like Rosalba Carriera, Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabetta Sirani, Diana Scultori, Isabella d’Este, and Christina, Queen of Sweden, whose works, fates, and influence on the art world of their times have now largely been forgotten. This exhibition sheds light on these very aspects and looks at the diverse, active roles played by a whole host of women in Italian art up until 1800, by way of drawings and prints from the rich collection of the Kupferstichkabinett, as well as a number of impressive loans.

Muse oder Macherin? Frauen in der italienischen Kunstwelt 1400 – 1800 — A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Dürer for Berlin. Looking for Traces in the Kupferstichkabinett

Duerer Rhino 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© bpk / Kupferstichkabinett, SMB / Jörg P. A

12 May – 27 August 2023 in the Exhibition Hall of the Kulturforum

The Kupferstichkabinett is home to one of the most important collections of drawings and printed works by Albrecht Dürer. The masterpieces gathered together here give a striking demonstration of the breadth of his artistic production. With this exhibition, the Kupferstichkabinett is opening one of its greatest treasure chests. Alongside Dürer’s engravings and woodcut series (such as Apocalypse and Life of the Virgin), key drawings will be on display, such as Dürer’s Mother, The Wire-Drawing Mill, and numerous sheets from the famous Sketchbook of His Journey to the Netherlands.

With its 120 exhibits, the exhibition will also publicly explore the multifaceted nature of the collection itself for the first time. It leads from the beginnings of the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett in 1831 and the founding of the German Empire in 1871 through the Gründerzeit and the Nazi years to the division of the collections after the war and their subsequent reunification at the Kulturforum in 1994.

In this sense, the exhibition does not just explore art-historical aspects, but also aspects relating to the history of collecting as well as broader cultural-historical themes. It touches on the formation of Germany’s national identity, on the transfer of artworks during the Napoleonic era and its effect on the European art market, and on one of the first-ever controversies of attribution in German art history.

Dürer für Berlin. Eine Spurensuche im Kupferstichkabinett — A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Anniversary Exhibition – The Schering Stiftung Collection at the Kupferstichkabinett

Tomás Saraceno, Solitary semi-social mapping 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Studio Tomás Saraceno

6 July – 8 October 2023 in the Kupferstichkabinett, Kulturforum Berlin

The successful collaboration between the Kupferstichkabinett and the Schering Stiftung is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2023. Both partner institutions are taking this occasion to celebrate the extensive collection of contemporary drawings that has grown out of this long-standing collaboration through an exhibition and an accompanying catalog.

The collection has grown to encompass more than 130 works ranging from the 1970s to the present day, produced by 28 high-caliber German and international artists, including N. Dash, Nadine Fecht, Dan Graham, Julie Mehretu,  Matt Mullican, Carsten Nicolai, Tomás Saraceno, Jorinde Voigt and many more. This anniversary exhibition does not just finally give the Schering Stiftung Collection the recognition it deserves, but both partners have also made it their aim to actively shape the discourse around contemporary drawing as an art form, organizing an accompanying program of events and activities to this end.

Jubiläumsausstellung. Die Sammlung Schering Stiftung im Kupferstichkabinett — A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kunstgewerbemuseum Exhibitions in the Kulturforum Berlin in 2023

The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts) in the Kulturforum is far behind the Gemäldegalerie and Neue Nationalgalerie in popularity but it has a magnificent collection well worth closer study. It will further offer temporary exhibitions in 2023 in the Kulturforum but also in Schloss Köpenik to the southeast of Berlin.

Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Space

Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Spaces 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Foto: Jaroslav Franta

25 March – 18 July 2023 in the Exhibition Hall of the Kulturforum

This exhibition looks back to the future, and to the time of the Cold War. It explores historical instances of utopian design and the visions for better futures underlying them, focusing explicitly on countries in the former Eastern bloc.

The show responds to a double impulse: firstly, it seeks to fill some of the gaps in a transnational history of design, contributing to a pluralistic understanding and re-evaluation of “utopian Modernism”; and secondly, it reflects upon the importance of design in the emergence of cultural identities in the various post-socialist countries, and its function as a form of diplomatic soft power in the political tussles between global powers.

The Kunstgewerbemuseum has invited 12 groups of specialists in the field to jointly develop the exhibition and to present key examples of spatial design for both the public and private realms, ranging from kitchens to airport lounges.

Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Space — A special exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The Furniture of José Canops and the Royal Workshop in Madrid under Charles III

7 July – 5 November 2023 in the Kunstgewerbemuseum

Though largely unknown today, the work of the royal workshop in Madrid under the direction of the ébéniste of German extraction José Canops (1733–1814) is among the crowning achievements of European furniture making. It combines the explosive Rococo ornamentation developed by the court painter Mattia Gasparini – a truly European creation combining Italian tradition with an admiration for Parisian luxury and an exoticizing enthusiasm for Asian art – with the precision of German carpentry and the wealth of the Spanish colonial world.

The impetus for the exhibition was the spectacular acquisition of an opulent cylinder desk by Canops for the Kunstgewerbemuseum. Loans from the Royal Collections in Madrid that have never before been displayed open up a previously unknown cosmos, for German and international audiences alike.

Möbelkunst von José Canops und der Madrider Hofwerkstatt unter Karl III.  — A special exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Berlin Kunstbibliothek Exhibition in Kulturforum in 2023

The Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) has a huge collection of books and other material that may be used for temporary exhibitions of a wide variety of topics. The two main exhibitions in 2023 are:

A UFO in 1665. Investigating a Historical Sighting

Darstellung eines fantastischen Luftschiffs 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

5 May – 27 August 2023 in the Kunstbibliothek, Kulturforum Berlin

In April 1665, six fishermen witnessed an aerial battle in the skies above the Baltic Sea near Stralsund. As evening broke, a dark-grey disk appeared high above the city center. With reference to contemporaneous visual and textual sources, this exhibition reconstructs the way this event was portrayed in the media over the years. From our historical distance, we can recognize certain paradigms and communications strategies that centuries later continue to determine the reporting of unexplained celestial phenomena.

The recent reports of “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs) released by the US military also form part of this cultural and media context. UFOs and human imagination seem to be inextricably linked with one another. This exhibition is the first of its kind to focus on this historical sighting and is centered around books, drawings, and printed matter from the Kunstbibliothek and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

UFO 1665. Untersuchung einer historischen Sichtung — A special exhibition of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Blockbuster. Film Posters from 12 Decades

Boris Bilinsky, Metropolis 2023 Berlin Kulturforum Exhibitions
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Dietmar Katz

3 November 2023 – 3 March 2024 in the Exhibition Hall of the Kulturforum

With their restricted format, film posters condense the narrative and mood of a long feature film into a single image. A good film poster does not just announce a cinematic spectacle, through its graphic composition, it stirs the emotions or – if viewed retrospectively – conjures up memories. The exhibition Blockbuster presents original film posters spanning from the early 20th century through to the present decade from the Graphic Design Collection of the Kunstbibliothek. Uniquely, this exhibition is being jointly curated by some 30 different people, all of whom are connected with the film industry in different ways.

In this presentation at the Kulturforum, visitors can listen to audio recordings of the guest curators talking about the reasons behind their poster choices. Thematic sections offer further perspectives on the medium of the film poster, such as its birth at the turn of the 20th century, Berlin as a city of cinema, and current graphic design for films. The exhibition will be accompanied by a film program and a series of events.

Großes Kino. Filmplakate aus 12 Jahrzehnten — A special exhibition of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in collaboration with the Berlin International Film Festival and the Deutsche Kinemathek.

More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):

Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2024. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Neues Museum but sensible (and possibly essential in busy periods!) for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, and Pergamon – Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!). Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide, which seems to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out. Many passes and multi-museum tickets are again available (Kulturforum / Museums Island). 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 but pick up free audioguides first.

For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:

News & Temporary Exhibitions:

More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:

Previous Temporary Exhibitions: