2024: Berlin Neue Nationalgalerie – Special Temporary Exhibitions

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by Henk Bekker

in Berlin, Germany, N24

Top special exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024 include Zerreißprobe (art from 1945 to 2000), Josephine Baker, and Nan Goldin.

Top special exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024 include Zerreißprobe (art from 1945 to 2000), Josephine Baker, and Nan Goldin.
© Nationalgalerie – SMB / David von Becker

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is in a Mies van der Rohe-designed gallery in the Kulturforum area of Berlin. This gallery is mostly used to display twentieth-century art. Extreme Tension (Zerreißprobe). Art Between Politics and Society is an exhibition of art from 1945 to 2000 and illustrates the tensions and divisions between the two Germanies and society — it is the main exhibition in the Neue Nationalgalerie until late 2025. Smaller temporary exhibitions in 2024 cover the life and art of Josephine Baker (1906–75) and Nan Goldin.

Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2024

Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin Exterior
2021© BBR / Thomas Bruns

The Neue Nationalgalerie in the Kulturforum area of Berlin reopened in 2021 after six years of renovation work to Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece. This art museum has no permanent display although the main exhibition area on the lower level is used for major exhibitions by the National Gallery that usually lasts around two years. The first exhibition here, The Art of Society, 1900 to 1945, was replaced from November 2023 by Extreme Tension (Zerreißprobe). Art Between Politics and Society — The Nationalgalerie collection from 1945 until 2000, which will run until August 2025.

Only once the new Modern Art Museum opens (it is currently under construction next to the Neue Nationalgalerie), will it be possible to cover the entire 20th-century collection of the National Gallery at the same time. (Contemporary art in Berlin is on display in the Hamburger Bahnhof, 19th-century art in the Alte Nationalgalerie, and old masters in the Gemäldegalerie)

Smaller temporary exhibitions are held in rooms on the lower level but the more prestigious space is the exhibition hall (glass hall) on the upper level and may require a surcharge and separate time-slot reservations.

→→ See Top Special Exhibitions in Berlin Museums in 2024 for more information on art and cultural temporary exhibitions in other museums and galleries.

Zerreißprobe. Art Between Politics and Society (1945 and 2000)

A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie Sammlung from November 2023 – September 2025

Brasker Landschaft 2023 Berlin Nationalgalerie Exhibitions
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Roman März

The current main exhibition in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is Zerreißprobe. Kunst zwischen Politik und Gesellschaft. Die Sammlung 1945 – 2000. This Extreme Tension. Art Between Politics and Society — The Nationalgalerie Collection from 1945 until 2000 is on display from 18 November 2023 to 28 September 2025.

Hardly any other era was so marked by division, rupture, and transformation as the time after the Second World War. In light of this, the Neue Nationalgalerie is very deliberately showing its new collection display of post-1945 art under the title Zerreißprobe (stress test or extreme tension). Taking the radical performance of the same title by Günter Brus as its point of departure, the Neue Nationalgalerie shows how dramatically post-war art was shaped by the tensions that existed between politics and society.

The current exhibition can only show a small selection of the National Gallery’s extensive collection. It is strongly influenced by the historical conditions in divided Germany. Not only does it reflect the different conceptions of art and political value systems that emerged internationally after the end of the Second World War, but it also reveals the history of an institution that existed in both East and West Germany. 

Katharina Sieverding, Schlachtfeld Deutschland 2023 Berlin Nationalgalerie Exhibitions
© SMB, Nationalgalerie / Jens Ziehe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2022

The presentation features key works from West and East Germany, Western Europe, and the USA, and unpacks central artistic and societal themes from the 20th century, such as issues related to realism and abstraction, politics and society, everyday life and pop culture, feminism or nature and ecology.

On display are works from the Art Informel movement and American Colour Field painting, from Pop Art and Minimalism, as well as works of figures such as Josef Albers, Joseph Beuys, Francis Bacon, Lee Bontecou, Rebecca Horn, Valie Export, Bruce Naumann, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Louise Nevelson, Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley or Willi Sitte. The presentation will also spotlight a number of works and artists that have recently been added to the collection.

Special Temporary Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin 2024

Nan Goldin, Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston, 1973
© Nan Goldin

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin features mostly 20th-century art — for contemporary art see special exhibitions in the Hamburger Bahnhof. Special temporary exhibitions in the New National Gallery in 2024 include:

Josephine Baker. Icon in Motion

26 January – 28 April 2024

Josephine Baker (1906–75) is an icon and a media phenomenon: in films, audio recordings, and photographic material, her presence as a dancer, singer, and actor continues to move audiences and artists to this day. Baker’s expressive power as an artist and her life achievements are at once a part of our collective memory and have also become clichéd. The exhibition explores the facets and strategies of Baker’s framing of her persona in an audio-visual essay and displays the uniqueness of her dancing style and her radiance on the screen – sensual, dramatic, and full of humor.

Icon in Motion gives audiences an insight into Baker’s artistic work and the strategies that led to her success, into a body of work that has continued to inspire artists since she first hit the stages of Paris in the 1920s. The exhibition also looks at Baker’s contribution to cinema — an element that has previously been largely ignored.

A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in collaboration with the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn.

Nan Goldin. This Will Not End Well

23 November 2024 – 16 February 2025

The upper hall of the Neue Nationalgalerie will host a retrospective on the work of Nan Goldin titled This Will Not End Well. Across six rooms, Goldin’s work will be featured by way of slide shows and film projections accompanied by soundtracks and music.

Goldin’s works tell stories about love, intimacy, addiction, and loss. With her sometimes tender snapshots of intimacy and relationships, everyday life, wild parties, and the struggle between autonomy and dependency, Goldin continues to shape our perception of our times.

Through its focus on slide shows and video installations, the exhibition goes back to the roots of Goldin’s artistic practice. Goldin, who always wanted to be a filmmaker, conceives of her slide shows as film stills. This Will Not End Well thus ties in with Goldin’s original vision of how audiences should interact with her art.

The exhibition will be traveling to the following museums: Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan, and the Grand Palais, Paris.

A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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

Note new opening times for many Berlin museums from mid-April 2024. Timeslot reservations are essential only for the Caspar David Friedrich exhibition (until 4 August 2024) but sensible (and sometimes needed in busy periods!) for the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, and Pergamon – Das Panorama. (The Pergamon Museum itself is closed until 2027!). Timeslots are released only a few weeks in advance. Online 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 sold (Kulturforum / Museums Island). Individual museum ticket prices range from €8 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:

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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