Welcome to the BRD is an exhibition in Berlin in 2020 on how guest workers from Greece and Italy and finally citizens from the former East Germany were received and perceived in West Germany.
Some of the lesser-known national museums in Berlin have excellent collections that are enhanced by special temporary exhibitions making these galleries worth visiting. In 2020, a special Welcome to the BRD exhibition in the Museum for European Cultures will draw visitors to Dahlem — this exhibition on the anniversaries of guest worker programs with Greece and Italy as well as the collapse of East Germany focus on the experiences of immigrants to the former West Germany. A special Picasso and André Thomkins exhibitions await visitors in Charlottenburg. The Museum of Photography will have several temporary exhibitions.
Special Exhibitions in Dahlem, Berlin, in 2020
Dahlem in the southwestern suburbs if Berlin used to be a major museum center but as the Asiatic Art and Ethnological Museums moved to the Humboldt Forum on Museum Island (likely to open in September 2021), only the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (European Cultures) remained here. A special exhibition to coincide with special anniversaries is sure to make it worth the short U-Bahn ride from central Berlin. Tickets are €8.
Welcome to the BRD. Between Dream and Trauma
This special exhibition of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin marks the 30th anniversary of the DDR joining the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) and the 60th anniversary of the Labour Recruitment Agreements with Greece (2020) and Turkey (2021).
The Museum Europäischer Kulturen (MEK) is taking a look at two social groups who are often perceived as “the other” in the Federal Republic of Germany, both by themselves and by others: migrants and people from the former East. Against the backdrop of contemporary social changes, this exhibition explores potential alliances: what are the parallels between the everyday experiences of migrants and East Germans? What are their hopes and utopias?
Put together by an East German and migrant curatorial team and in collaboration with institutions located in both East and West Berlin, the exhibition is not being made about East Germans and migrants, but with and by them. In thematically designed rooms, various aspects of the theme will be explored, with biographical stories being complemented by object and media constellations and artistic contributions. In participative sections, visitors will have the chance to share their own experiences.
Welcome to the BRD. Zwischen Traum und Trauma — 3 October 2020 – August 2021
Meeting Point Murcia
The focus of Meeting Point Murcia is also on the meeting of cultures in Europe. It is a special exhibition of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with the Center for European Studies/Universidad de Murcia and the Sociedad Murciana de Antropología.
This exhibition is being held in conjunction with the 17th European Cultural Days, which in 2020 will focus on the Spanish region of Murcia. The region, its particularities, and its history will be presented through a focus on two central themes: its fruit-growing tradition and the role played by migration in the region.
The history of human settlement in Murcia stretches back almost 50,000 years. In the Middle Ages, it was home to communities of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Today it is a place where undocumented migrants — whose work on Murcia’s plantations makes Murcia’s reputation as one of Europe’s main fruit-growing regions possible — come together with retirees from Northern Europe, who move to the region to live out their twilight years. Through photographs, objects from the MEK collection and from Spanish cooperation partners, the exhibition brings to life the everyday experience of the region.
Treffpunkt Murcia — 30 July – 1 November 2020
Special Exhibitions near Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin in 2010
Schloss Charlottenburg lost most of its museums to Berlin’s Museum Island in recent years but two small specialized art museums remained near the former Prussian royal palace. Both have special temporary exhibitions in 2020 to enhance its small but oft-praised permanent collections. Combination tickets are €12.
Pablo Picasso. Les Femmes d’Alger in the Museum Berggruen
In the winter of 1954–55, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) realized a long-held desire. The 73-year-old painted a response to Eugène Delacroix’s famous work Women of Algiers, of which he produced two versions as a memento of his 1832 journey to North Africa. Over three months, Picasso created a series of 15 oil paintings, which were accompanied by some 100 sketches and lithographs.
Picasso’s response to Delacroix is not a single picture but a series of images which only remained together as a discrete ensemble for a short time. Today, Museum Bergruen is the only public museum in Europe that has one of the paintings from this series on exhibit. Alongside paintings and works on paper from the Femmes d’Alger series, the exhibition will also feature works that inspired Picasso, as well as some that he himself inspired.
Pablo Picasso. Les Femmes d’Alger — 20 June – 13 September 2020
André Thomkins in the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg
“nie reime, da kann akademie rein”, “Dogma I am God”: the palindromes of André Thomkins (1930–1985) are imbued with a principle of inversion which also guides a significant portion of his visual work. Referencing the ideas of Surrealism, the Swiss painter, illustrator and poet created works which deal playfully with a representational connection between a “here” and a “there”. With wit and a refined passion for technical experimentation, André Thomkins subverts reality and is at the same time its keenest interpreter. Supported by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, which manages André Thomkin’s estate, alongside his so-called Scharnierbilder, Lackskins and Rollagen, the exhibition features his Permanentszenen and Schwebsel pictures, as well as lesser-known drawings, watercolours and objects.
More than 30 years after the artist’s death, this is the first survey exhibition in a Berlin museum to focus on his work.
André Thomkins — December 2020 – April 2021
Special Exhibitions in the Museum for Photography
Before and After. The Educational Photography Collections of the Berlin University of the Arts 1850 – 1930
The archives of the Universität der Künste Berlin hold collections of educational images and models that are unique in Germany. They were used by the institutions that preceded the University, the Art Academy and the earlier School of Applied Arts Berlin, which formed part of the Kunstgewerbemuseum, as models and teaching aids. The material largely consists of original photographs that date back to around 1850, when the medium first emerged.
For spring 2020, the Münchner Stadtmuseum is preparing an exhibition featuring around 280 exhibits, which will then be shown in the Museum für Fotografie in Berlin. The project pays particular attention to the photographic images that were used as teaching aids, and investigates the emergence, structure and use of the collections. The exhibition foregrounds these educational photographs as a largely unexplored form of applied image-making.
Vorbilder / Nachbilder. Die fotografischen Lehrsammlungen der Universität der Künste Berlin 1850 – 1930 from 28 August 2020 – 10 January 2021
Wolfgang Schulz and the Photography Scene around 1980
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, photography began to achieve a new level of recognition in the art world. There was experimentation with new photographic techniques, museums began to take an interest in the medium, and the first photography galleries were founded.
The point of departure for this exhibition that addresses this fascinating era of change is the magazine Fotografie: Zeitschrift internationaler Fotokunst, which was published between 1977 and 1985 and edited by Wolfgang Schulz. Schulz sought to resist the norms that were then being established, and both as the editor of the magazine and as a photographer, experimented with a range of styles and subject matter.
Wolfgang Schulz und die Fotoszene um 1980 — 4 April – 19 July 2020
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 Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, 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.
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 (2024).
- 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: Overview of Top Berlin Exhibitions in 2024, Caspar David Friedrich in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Frans Hals in the Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie (20th-century art) Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary Art, Kupferstichkabinett (Prints and Drawings), and Photography Museum.
- Museums closed in 2024: The Pergamon Museum is closed until 2027 (some sculptures are on display in Das Panorama), the Museum Berggruen is closed until 2025 (much of its collection is traveling the world), the permanent collection of the German History Museum (Zeughaus) is closed but temporary exhibitions continue in the Pei Building.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
More Museum Reviews and Museum-Specific Information:
- Alte Nationalgalerie with Caspar David Friedrich paintings (2024 special exhibition).
- 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 — 20th-century art.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum is closed from October 2023 until 2027. Some Greek sculptures are shown in the
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- 2022: 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.
- 2021: 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.
- 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum.