Top Temporary Art Exhibitions in Kulturforum Berlin in 2020

Raphael’s Madonnas and the Late Gothic are the top exhibitions in the Gemäldegalerie in 2020 but several prints and drawings collections will also draw visitors to Berlin’s Kulturforum.

Raffael, Maria mit dem segnenden Kind und den Heiligen Hieronymus und Franziskus
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Jörg P. Anders

The two top temporary art exhibitions in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie in 2020 feature six Madonnas by Raphael and the role of Late Gothic in the birth of modernity. Further temporary exhibitions in the Kulturforum in 2020 draw mostly on the vast collections of the Kupferstichkabinett (prints and drawings), the art library and the decorative arts museum. These include drawings by Raphael and pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Tickets for the Kulturforum may be bought online in advance from Tiqets.

Best Temporary Art Exhibitions in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie in 2020

Raphael in Berlin. The Madonnas of the Gemäldegalerie

Raffael: Maria mit dem segnenden Kind und den Heiligen Hieronymus und Franziskus
© SMB, Gemäldegalerie / Jörg P. Anders
Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks
© The National Gallery, London

Raffael in Berlin: Die Madonnen der Gemäldegalerie is a special exhibition by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael. At the core of this exhibition are the five Raphael Madonnas of the Gemäldegalerie that will be joined by Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks that is usually on display in the National Gallery in London. (Raphael drawings will be displayed in the Kupferstichkabinett in 2020 — see below.)

Raffael in Berlin: Die Madonnen der Gemäldegalerie — 13 December 2019 to 26 April 2020

Late Gothic. The Birth of Modernity

Konrad Witz, Die Königin von Saba vor Salomo
© SMB, Gemäldegalerie / Jörg P. Anders

The Spätgotik. Aufbruch in die Neuzeit exhibition represents the first comprehensive exhibition in a German-speaking country to focus on late Gothic art. Inspired by developments in the Netherlands, from the 1430s onwards, artistic means of expression began to change: light and shade, body and space came to be depicted with increasing realism. With advances in printing techniques, these innovations found mass distribution. Despite their religious function, the images increasingly came to be perceived as works of art.

With around 120 objects — including outstanding loans and key works from the holdings of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin — the juxtaposition of various artistic genres trace the innovations in the media of the 15th century. Diverse connections between the works bear witness to a permanent interplay between the media, allowing audiences to experience the full breadth of late Gothic art. 

Spätgotik. Aufbruch in die Neuzeit — 9 October 2020 – 14 February 2021

Bastianino. The Living Cross of Ferrara

This large-format altarpiece with its unusual depiction of the “living cross of Ferrara” – an allegory from the Old and New Testament – was given to the Gemäldegalerie by the Humboldt Universität Berlin as a permanent loan and restored with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung in 2018/19. Upon completion of the restoration work, the painting will be presented to the public in a focussed exhibition. Though the altar painting – which originates from the Santa Catarina Martire monastery and church in Ferrara – is based on two works by Garofalo, the lively painting style of the late Mannerist Sebastiano Filippi (also known as Bastianino, ca. 1532–1602) is unmistakable. The “living cross”, produced ca. 1560–70, is possibly the only work by Filippi held by a public collection in Germany.

Bastiano. Das lebende Kreuz aus Ferrara — June – October 2020


Best Temporary Art Exhibitions in Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett in 2020

Berlin has a fantastic collection of prints and drawings but due to the fragility of these works they are only displayed for short periods making it essential to get the dates right even for the following major temporary exhibitions in 2020:

Raphael in Berlin. Masterworks from the Kupferstichkabinett

Raphael, Pluto, 1517/1518
© SMB, Kupferstichkabinett / Volker-H. Schneider

To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are dedicating two special exhibitions to this central artist of the Italian Renaissance:

Parallel to the exhibition Raphael in Berlin. The Madonnas of the Gemäldegalerie (see above), the Kupferstichkabinett is showing a small but significant group of drawings from its collection produced by the artist himself. 

These rarely exhibited sheets convey an impression of Raphael’s remarkable creative range. They are complemented by works by his teacher Perugino and his most important students and contemporaries, Gianfrancesco Penni, Giulio Romano and Perino del Vaga, and by the copperplate maker Marcantonio Raimondi.

Raffael in Berlin. Meisterwerke aus dem Kupferstichkabinett — 28 February – 31 May 2020

Pop on Paper. From Warhol to Lichtenstein

Andy Warhol, Marilyn, 1967
© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, SMB, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders

Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett is home to an outstanding collection of prints from the 1960s – with a particular focus on works of Pop Art. This exhibition will shine a spotlight on the various facets of Pop Art (with a focus on the US), for which silk-screen printing was the most important medium of international dissemination. This medium allowed artists to use motifs from advertising, newspapers or comic strips to translate the colorful world of consumer culture into vibrant, often provocative images. 

This is demonstrated by some 100 works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Allen Jones, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana, Sigmar Polke, R. B. Kitaj, Maria Lassnig and Ulrike Ottinger. The presentation is rounded off by Pop-Art-inspired posters and design objects.

Pop on Papier. Von Warhol bis Lichtenstein — 3 April –  26 July 2020

Time for Take-Off! A Summer Exhibition at the Kupferstichkabinett

In August 2020, the Kupferstichkabinett is once again organizing one of its popular summer exhibitions. In the autumn, Berlin’s big construction site, the new BER airport, is supposed to finally open its doors. Under the title Time for Take-Off! the Kupferstichkabinett will explore the theme of flying, ranging from centuries of fascination with the topic through to the contemporary phenomenon of ‘flight shame’. 

On display are works from the 15th to 21st centuries, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Eugène Delacroix and Eberhard Havekost.

Wir heben ab! Eine Sommerausstellung des Kupferstichkabinetts — 29 August – 6 December 2020

Special Exhibitions in Berlin’s Kunstgewerbemuseum in 2020

Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts has a vast collection that will be enhanced by further temporary exhibitions. The more interesting for many visitors will focus, like many other exhibitions in Berlin in 2020, on the parallel development of ideas in the former West and East Germany.

Produce more — live better. Design for a classless society 

In post-war Berlin, a national reconstruction programme started up in both East and West to generate new residential areas. The flagship projects were Stalinallee in the East, which began in 1950, and from 1957 in the West, the Hansaviertel. On top of this, the ideological competition on the market in a divided Berlin was cranked up even further through housing and architectural exhibitions. The exhibition presented in the West Berlin Marshall Haus We’re Building a Better Life (1952) played deliberately on the GDR slogan “Produce more – live better”. In response, a year later the East German government convened a national conference addressing “the great tasks facing interior design”. 

Town planning and architecture became tools in the competition between the systems, and a highly charged realm of propaganda. Taking the specific situation of Berlin as its point of departure, the exhibition also looks at the countries of the former Eastern Bloc and their models of housing and consumption. It interrogates the socio-political dimension of housing and the role of design at the intersections of utopian ideals and discourses of power and gender. The project has been developed in collaboration with an international research team that was put together especially for the purpose, with international designers invited to develop their own design concepts for the exhibition of the research outcomes.

Mehr produzieren – besser leben. Design für eine klassenlose Gesellschaft — 27 November  2020 – 28 February 2021

ATMOISM. Hermann August Weizenegger

Hermann August Weizenegger, Leuchte „Heron“,
© Hermann August Weizenegger / Bernd Hiepe

With ATMOISM, the Kunstgewerbemuseum is holding the first major solo exhibition on the work of influential designer Herman August Weizenegger (born 1963 in Kempten).

On display are 13 interventions, reminiscent of set designs, which Weizenegger has produced especially for the exhibition. In a dialogue with the permanent exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum, they also open up spheres of possibility for how exhibits might be presented and contextualized in the future, as well as how atmospheric tours and experiential worlds can be created for visitors.

ATMOISM. Hermann August Weizenegger — 12 June – 11 October 2020

Special Exhibitions in Berlin’s Kunstbibliothek in 2020

Berlin’s Art Library will host several special exhibitions in 2020, including


Trade: Marks. The Graphic Design Studio of Stankowski + Duschek (WT)

Stankowski + Duschek, Das Logo der Deutschen Bank als Op Art,
© SMB, Kunstbibliothek / Dietmar Katz

Logos, signage, corporate identity – things that today are part and parcel of the image of every company were still in their infancy in the mid-20th century. One of the pioneers of this evolution was the Stuttgart graphic design studio Stankowski + Duschek, which for more than three decades was one of the leading firms in communication design in Germany. 

This partnership produced famous logos and corporate identities for clients such as Deutsche Bank, Viessmann, and Messe Frankfurt. The constructive aesthetics of their semiotic systems reveal connections with the milieu of concrete art, in which Anton Stankowski (1906–1998) and Karl Duschek (1947–2011) were also involved. In this exhibition, some 300 exhibits of design sketches and printed matter from the collection of the Kunstbibliothek enter into a dialogue with works of art, offering the first-ever overview of the extensive production of Stankowski + Duschek.

Marken: Zeichen. Das Grafische Atelier Stankowski + Duschek — 13 March – 28 June 2020

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Veduta di Roma – Der Petersdom mit den Kolonnaden und dem Petersplatz, um 1750,
© SMB, Kunstbibliothek / Knud Petersen

Piranesi 300

The Kunstbibliothek is celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Italian architectural visionary Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) with a special exhibition at the Kulturforum. The exhibition revolves around the Kunstbibliothek’s unique collection of drawings by Piranesi and the ornate books he published, as well as the rich collection of prints held by the Kupferstichkabinett. In collaboration with early-career researchers from Humboldt Universität Berlin, the Kunstbibliothek has conceived of the exhibition as a stage on which Piranesi appears in all his roles – as archaeologist, designer, scholar, set designer and visionary.

Piranesi 300 — 5 October 2020 – 7 February 2021

Claudia Skoda. Fashion, Photographs, Films, Music and Performance (WT)

Martin Kippenberger, Ohne Titel (Claudia Skoda mit ihrer Strickmaschine im U-Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor, Berlin),
© Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

With her fashion designs, Claudia Skoda (born 1943) was a key figure and icon of the Berlin underground scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Her designs revolutionized our understanding of knitwear, while her performance-like fashion shows, such as Big Birds(1979), Trommelfeuer (1980), Dressater(1988) and Deep Diving for Whales(1997) garnered her international attention.

Her first solo exhibition will include fashion, some 200 photographs, films, and music by artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Luciano Castelli, Salomé, Jim Rakete, Ulrike Ottinger, Silke Grossmann, Manuel Göttsching, Kraftwerk, and many others. Alongside her collections, their production and distribution, the exhibition will also take a look at her commune Fabrikneu, her fashion shows and studio outlets, her time in New York, as well as Skoda’s social networks and her collaborations with a whole range of artists.

Claudia Skoda. Mode, Fotografien, Filme, Musik und Performance — 29 October 2020 – 21 February 2021

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, 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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