2024: Berlin State Museums – Special Temporary Exhibitions

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by Henk Bekker

in Berlin, Germany, N24

In 2024, the Berlin state museums and national galleries will stage several temporary exhibitions to complement the astonishingly good permanent collections.

2024: Top special exhibitions in Berlin museums include Josephine Baker, Frans Hals, Claude Monet, Caspar David Friedrich, and Max Ernst. Many temporary exhibitions are in the art spaces of Berlin’s Kulturforum while contemporary art is shown in the Hamburger Bahnhof. Historical and archaeological artifacts are exhibited on Museums Island in the heart of Berlin.

Claude Monet, Special temporary exhibitions in September 2024 – January 2025, Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin
© Nationalgalerie, SMB / Jörg P. Anders

Top Temporary Exhibitions in the Kulturforum in Berlin in 2024

Berlin’s Kulturforum is home to several world-class collections. The two largest museums here with very impressive permanent exhibitions are the Gemäldegalerie (Old Masters paintings) and the Neue Nationalgalerie (mostly 20th-century art). The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Decorative Arts) covers design from the Middle Ages to the present. The Kupferstichkabinett (Graphic Art) and Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) have only special temporary exhibitions — often of astonishingly high quality.

Special Exhibitions in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin in 2024

Malle Babbe (detail) on display in the Frans Hals Exhibition in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 2024

The astonishing permanent collection of European old masters’ paintings in the Gemäldegalerie (Paintings Gallery) will be complemented by the following blockbuster temporary exhibition in 2024:

  • Frans Hals. Master of the Moment / Meister des Augenblicks (12 July – 3 November 2024) — the first comprehensive survey exhibition in more than 30 years of one of the greatest portrait painters of all time features around 50 of the most important works from more than 20 public and private collections.

→→ See Frans Hals Exhibitions in Berlin in 2024 for more details.

Special Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024

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

The most important temporary exhibition in the Neue Nationgalerie is Extreme Tension. Art between Politics and Society (Zerreißprobe. Kunst zwischen Politik und Gesellschaft) — it covers art from 1945 to 2000 and will be on display from 11 November 2023 to 28 September 2025. Only once the new Modern Art museum (currently under construction in the Kulturforum) is completed will it be possible for the Nationalgalerie to exhibit its full 20th-century art collection at the same time.

The two top temporary exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024 are:

  • Josephine Baker. Icon in Motion (26 January – 28 April 2024) — it covers Josephine Baker (1906–75) as 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.
  • Nan Goldin. This Will Not End Well (23 November 2024 – 16 February 2025) — a retrospective featuring slide shows and film projections accompanied by soundtracks and music. Goldin’s works tell stories about love, intimacy, addiction, and loss.

→→ See Special Exhibitions in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024 for more details.

Special Exhibitions in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in 2024

Paul Signac, In Holland – Die Boje, 1894, Farblithographie special exhibitions in Berlin 2024
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Dietmar Katz

The Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin has one of the largest collections of graphic art and prints in the world. Due to the fragility of the works, these are only shown in short temporary exhibitions — often enhanced with loans from other institutions.

The top temporary exhibitions in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in 2024 are:

  • Rescued Modernism. Masterpieces from Kirchner to Picasso / Die gerettete Moderne. Meisterwerke von Kirchner bis Picasso (2 February – 21 April 2024) — some of the Modernist art that was saved from the campaign against “Degenerate Art” (“Entartete Kunst” ) including works by Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wassily Kandinsky, Käthe Kollwitz, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso
  • The Allure of Rome. Maarten van Heemskerck Draws the City / Faszination Rom. Maarten van Heemskerck zeichnet die Stadt (26 April – 4 August 2024) — 160 drawings by the Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574) made during a trip to Rome in 1532.
  • (Un)seen Stories (30 May – end of August 2024) — a multi-collection display focusing on the stories that objects tell through their external appearance and on their invisible backstories. The show will present methodologies of museum work that enable the invisible histories of artworks and artifacts to be revealed.
  • The Other Impressionism / Der andere Impressionismus (September 2024 – January 2025) — Manet’s In the Conservatory at the Alte Nationalgalerie is often vaunted as the first Impressionist painting to be acquired by a museum anywhere in the world – but the real sensation of presenting Modernist art in the museum took place 15 years earlier. In 1881, the Kupferstichkabinett and the Nationalgalerie displayed 740 works of hitherto unshown Impressionist printmaking, which laid the foundations for a collection of modern art at the museum. Largely ignored to this day, printmaking was the key medium for Impressionism when it came to tackling and experimenting with modern themes. (It will run concurrently with the Claude Monet exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie.)

→→ See Special Exhibitions in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in 2024 for more details.

Special Exhibitions by the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin in 2024

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

The Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Art Library of the Berlin State Museums) does not have its own permanent display space but it uses the Exhibition Hall of the Kulturforum and the Photography Museum for special temporary exhibitions.

The main temporary exhibitions of the Kunstbibliothek in the Exhibition Hall of the Kulturforum in 2024 are:

  • Blockbuster. Film Posters from 12 Decades (3 November 2023 – 3 March 2024) — presents original film posters spanning from the early 20th century through to the present decade.
  • Rico Puhlmann – Berlin/New York. Fashion – Beauty – Portraits (14 November 2024 – 16 March 2025) — photos by the internationally renowned fashion photographer documenting some of the central themes in the industry across four decades of fashion history: trends like the legendary Berlin chic of the post-war years, or the New York sports- and streetwear of the ’70s and the changes in dress codes that went along with it, and the evolution of modeling as a career.

→→ See also Special Exhibition in the Photography Museum for joint events with the Kunstbibliothek.

Top Special Exhibitions in Museumsinsel Berlin Museums in 2024

Caspar David Friedrich -- Infinite Landscapes (Unendliche Landschaften) is a special exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin from 19 April to 4 August 2024.
© Andres Kilger / SMB Nationalgalerie

Berlin’s Museumsinsel (Museums Island) is home to some of the best museums in Berlin. The top museums here are the Pergamon Museum (which is closed until at least 2027 but the Panorama has some Greek marbles on display) the Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Bode-Museum, and the Alte Nationgalerie. (Although on the southern side of Museums Island, the museums in the Humboldtforum have their own hours and ticket arrangements.)

Special Exhibitions in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024

Caspar David Friedrich -- Infinite Landscapes (Unendliche Landschaften) is a special exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin from 19 April to 4 August 2024.
© Jörg P. Anders / SMB Nationalgalerie

The Alte Nationalgalerie, a 19th-century museum building resembling a Greek temple, is used for the National Gallery’s collection of 19th and early 20th-century art. This includes Impressionist and Romantic art which will be the theme of blockbuster exhibitions in Berlin in 2024.

The two top exhibitions in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2024, which most likely will require timeslot reservations, are:

  • Caspar David Friedrich. Endless Landscapes / Caspar David Friedrich. Unendliche Landschaften (19 April – 4 August 2024) — marking the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), the most prominent painter of the German Romantic movement, 60 paintings and 50 drawings. See 2024 Berlin: Caspar David Friedrich Exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie for more details on extended opening hours. Tickets for many days were already sold out weeks before the exhibition opened.
  • Claude Monet (September 2024 – January 2025) — In 1867, Claude Monet visited the Louvre to paint the pulsating life on the streets of Paris from the balcony of the building. The three remarkable cityscapes, which are viewed as marking the beginning of the Impressionist movement, form the centerpiece of a small, focused show on the image of the city in Impressionism, featuring some 20 works of painting, photography, and graphic art. (A simultaneous exhibition of Impressionist prints will be held by the Kupferstichkabinett.)

Special Exhibitions in the James-Simon-Galerie in Berlin in 2024

Special Exhibitions in the James-Simon-Galerie in Berlin in 2024
© Vorderasiatisches Museum, SMB / Olaf M. Teßmer

The James-Simon-Galerie is a special exhibition space on Museumsinsel Berlin located in the underground passage linking the Pergamon and Neues Museums. It is used by various museums for temporary exhibitions — admission is usually included in the ticket for the organizing museum.

Two temporary exhibitions in the James Simon Gallery in Berlin in 2024 are:

  • Elephantine (25 April – 3 November 2024) — Elephantine, an island on the Nile River near Egypt’s southern border, was a trade and military hub with a uniquely diverse, multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multi-religious population. It is the only place in the world where 4,000 years of unbroken cultural history can be traced through written sources. Outstanding objects from Berlin’s collections will be shown alongside highlights from around the world.
  • All Just Stolen!? Germany, Türkiye and the Archaeology – A Volatile Relationship / Alles nur geklaut!? Deutschland, Türkiye und die Archäologie – Eine wechselvolle Beziehung (Mid-December 2024 – End of May 2025) — an attempt to shed light on the issue of the originals and archaeological objects from eh former Ottoman Empire in the various Berlin collections. The objects made their way into Berlin’s collections via various paths, some with the consent of the relevant authorities and institutions in the Ottoman Empire, some without. The exhibition draws on recent findings in archaeological provenance research, and will also address political, legal, and ethical aspects.

Special Exhibitions in the Altes Museum in Berlin in 2024

Wives and Goddesses. Female Figures in Classical Mythology / Göttinnen und Gattinnen. Mythologische Frauenfiguren der Antike (17 May 2024 – 16 March 2025)
© Antikensammlung, SMB / Johannes Laurentius

The permanent collection of the Altes Museum is mostly of sculptures and antiquities from the Greek and Roman eras. Specialized temporary exhibitions are mostly small and seen in the final rooms at the end of the permanent collection.

The temporary exhibition from the Antikensammlung in the Altes Museum in Berlin in 2024 is:

  • Wives and Goddesses. Female Figures in Classical Mythology / Göttinnen und Gattinnen. Mythologische Frauenfiguren der Antike (17 May 2024 – 16 March 2025) — This special exhibition presents statues, vases, and other visual artifacts, where mythical women function both as social role models reflective of the social norms of their time and as counter-images, who radically transgress these norms. It paints a complex picture of women in classical cultures.

Special Exhibitions in the Neues Museum

2023 Berlin Museum Island Exhibitions
© QHN-mission / Sandra Steiß

The Neues Museum in Berlin is home to the oldest artifacts and items in the collection of the Berlin State Museums. It includes the Egyptian and the vast Pre- and Early History collections.

Top temporary exhibitions by the Neues Museum Berlin in 2024 include:

  • Stroke of Luck or Emergency Rescue? The Newly Discovered Tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa North (September 2023 – March 2024) — A special exhibition of the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung on a number of previously undiscovered rock-cut tombs in Aswan discovered during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 by archaeological looters.
  • Planet Africa. An Archaeological Journey through Time / Planet Africa. Eine archäologische Zeitreise (6 September 2024 – End of April 2025) — archaeological finds and historical visual and written sources offer insights into the arts, crafts, technologies, and environmental conditions of bygone eras and provide evidence of dialogues that were maintained across large geographical distances.

Top Special Exhibitions in the Museum für Fotografie Berlin in 2024

Michael Wesely exhibition in the Museum of Photography in Berlin in 2023
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The Museum für Fotografie (Photography) is located next to Berlin’s Zoologischer Bahnhof. It mostly stages temporary exhibitions of photos, although work from the vast Helmut Newton archive is always on display too.

Special exhibitions in the Photography Museum in Berlin in 2024 include:

  • Michael Wesely. Berlin 1860–2023 (12 April – 1 September 2024) — photographer Michael Wesely (born 1964) attempts to coax out the fragments of reality that are housed in historical architectural photographs of Berlin.
  • The Berlin Show (7 June – 10 November 2024) — the Helmut Newton Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary with a homage to Newton’s hometown. Alongside Newton’s iconic pictures and many unknown pictures from Berlin, shots of his earlier sources of inspiration will also be on show.
  • Max Ernst and Photography. A Visit from the Würth Collection / Max Ernst und die Fotografie. Die Sammlung Würth zu Gast (18 October 2024 – 27 April 2025) — Max Ernst (1891–1976) is one of the most important artists of Dadaism and Surrealism. For the first time, this exhibition looks for points of connection between his oeuvre and photography.
  • Polaroids (28 November 2024 – May 2025) — Helmut Newton’s Polaroids are complemented by works by numerous colleagues.

→→ See Temporary Exhibitions in the Photography Museum Berlin in 2024 for more details.

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg

Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Der Besuch 2023 berlin museums exhibitions
© Ernst Wilhelm Nay Stiftung, Köln

The Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, displayed near Schloss Charlottenburg, is a small but important collection of art of the fantastic with many Surrealist works.

Temporary exhibitions in the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg in Berlin in 2024 include:

  • Myth and Massacre. Ernst Wilhelm Nay and André Masson — (8 December 2023 – 28 April 2024) — André Masson’s large-format painting Massacre (1931) exhibits remarkable similarities with works from Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s so-called “France and Hecate” period in the 1940s. Thematically, the two artists assume contradicting stances. While in Masson’s works the memory of the brutality of the First World War is foregrounded, the young soldier Nay sketches a mythologically enchanted world that is juxtaposed to the horrific events of the Second World War that surrounded him. This exhibition focuses on the artistic relationship between the Surrealist Masson, born in 1896 in France, and Nay, born in Berlin in 1902, whose art would soon move away from figurative representation, becoming an icon of Modernist abstraction in post-war West Germany. 
  • The Flowers of Evil / Böse Blumen (Winter 2024 – Spring 2025) — Based on a work by Odilon Redon that is dedicated to Charles Baudelaire’s famous collection of poems Les Fleurs du mal (1857), this exhibition sets out on a foray through modern art to shed light on the aesthetics of decadence in their various aspects. This includes themes such as the birth of beauty from decay, the relation between artifice and nature, or the idea of the surrogate, all the way through to the concept of kitsch, a popular point of reference for the artists of Surrealism.

Some of the works from the Museum Berggruen that is closed for renovation until 2025 are also on show in the Scharf-Gerstenberg, while the rest of the collection is traveling – Japan, China, and Paris.

2024 in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

Joseph Beuys, DAS KAPITAL RAUM 1970–1977, 1980, Detail,
© SMB, Nationalgalerie, Sammlung Marx / Thomas Bruns, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

The Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart is used for the vast collection of contemporary art owned (and on loan to) the National Gallery. The Hamburger Bahnhof has frequent temporary displays and special events.

Top events and special contemporary exhibitions in the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2024 include:

  • Joseph Beuys. Collection Display / Sammlungspräsentation (From 22 March 2024) — a long-term display of the museum’s extensive holdings of works by artist Joseph Beuys (1921–86) in the Kleihueshalle. The main display will be accompanied by a rotating series of solo exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary artists – starting with Israeli artist Naama Tsabar (born 1982).
  • Tania Bruguera. Where Your Ideas Become Civic Actions (100 Hours Reading “The Origins of Totalitarianism”) (7 – 11 February 2024) — a performance by Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera. Artists, theorists, and activists will read Arendt’s magnum opus of political theory without breaks, day and night for 100 hours.
  • Preis der Nationalgalerie 2024. Pan Daijing, Dan Lie, Hanne Lippard and James Richards (7 June 2024 – 5 January 2025) — the prize winners will produce new works for a joint exhibition.
  • Semiha Berksoy (6 December 2024 – 11 May 2025) — a major retrospective of the Turkish painter and opera singer Semiha Berksoy (1910–2004).

→→ See 2024 Berlin: Contemporary Art Exhibitions in Hamburger Bahnhof Gallery for more details.

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:

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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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