In 2020, the state museums in Berlin will arrange several special exhibitions to enhance its vast permanent art, historical and cultural collections.
The top temporary cultural exhibitions in Berlin in 2020 will include a fresh look at the Germanic tribes in the Rhine region and an examination of the influence of the Late Gothic on the birth of modernity. Numerous further special art exhibitions will make any trip to Berlin worthwhile in 2020 including a special look at the works of Raphael in Berlin, Picasso’s response to the Women of Algiers, and large contemporary art exhibitions. Many exhibitions in 2020 will focus on the absorption of the DDR into the Federal Republic of Germany 30 years ago. However, the cultural highlight of the year will be the reopening of the museum for Asian Art and Ethnology in the Humboldt Forum in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss — best parts only opening during 2021.
The top temporary exhibitions in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in 2020 include:
Special Germanic Tribes Exhibition in the James-Simon-Galerie
The Germanic Tribes. A Critical Look is a temporary exhibition in the special exhibition space of the James-Simon-Galerie to present recent research on the Germanic tribes and outlines the settlement history of the area on the right bank of the Rhine between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD on the basis of numerous new finds and high-ranking loans.
This archaeological stocktaking allows a factually well-founded view of an important epoch in history, which is either only viewed in contrast to the development in the Roman Empire or is interpreted propagandistically with nationalistic intent.
Germanen. Eine Bestandsaufnahme in the James-Simon-Galerie — September 2020 – March 2021
See more details on further temporary exhibitions on Museum Island in 2020.
This exhibition opens in the LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn in May 2021.
Raphael 500 in Berlin in the Kulturforum
To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, the Berlin state museums will have two special exhibitions in the Kulturforum. In the Gemäldegalerie, Raffael in Berlin will display together the Nationalgalerie’s five Madonna paintings together with Madonna of the Pinks that will leave Britain for the first time in half a millennium.
Also in 2020, the Kupferstichkabinett is showing a small but significant group of drawings from its collection produced by Raphael accompanied by works of his students and contemporaries.
Raffael in Berlin: Die Madonnen der Gemäldegalerie — 13 December 2019 to 26 April 2020
Raffael in Berlin. Meisterwerke aus dem Kupferstichkabinett — 28 February – 31 May 2020
Late Gothic. The Birth of Modernity
The largest temporary exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie with around 120 works will open only towards the end of the year. 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.
Spätgotik. Aufbruch in die Neuzeit in the Gemäldegalerie— 9 October 2020 – 14 February 2021
See more details on further temporary exhibitions in the Kulturforum in 2020.
Magical Soup – Contemporary Art in the Hamburger Bahnhof
The top contemporary art exhibition in 2020 in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is the group exhibition Magical Soup. Media artworks in the collection of the Nationalgalerie, the Friedrich Christian Flick collection and selected loans explores social, political, spatial, bodily and imaginary borders. Music and sounds make up a combined point of departure for the works of media art, installations and works on paper featured in the exhibition, ranging from the 1970s through to the present day.
2 April – 16 August 2020 in the Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin
Welcome to the BRD. Between Dream and Trauma
This special exhibition of the Museum of European Cultures 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). It considers 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.
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.
Welcome to the BRD. Zwischen Traum und Trauma in the Museum Europäischer Kulturen — 3 October 2020 – August 2021
Pablo Picasso. Les Femmes d’Alger in the Museum Berggruen
In the winter of 1954–55, Picasso created a series of 15 oil paintings, which were accompanied by some 100 sketches and lithographs, as a response to Eugène Delacroix’s famous work Women of Algiers. This series of images 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 in the Museum Berggruen — 20 June – 13 September 2020
More on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin):
Note: Most Berlin museums and similar sights are open in 2023. Timeslot reservations are essential for only the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum (closed from Oct 2023 until 2027!), and Das Panorama. Timeslots are released only around four weeks in advance. Tickets are available from GetYourGuide that seem to have timeslots available when SMB has already sold out — many passes or multi-museum tickets are again available. 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 (2023).
- 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.
- Top Special Temporary Exhibitions in 2023 — overview, in the Kulturforum, in the Neue Nationalgalerie, on Museum Island, and the Museum of Photography.
- The Pergamon Museum will be closed completely from 23 October 2023. It will partly reopen only in spring 2027 (with the rest to follow by the mid to late 2030s).
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 with early 20th-century art and Alexander Calder exhibitions.
- Neues Museum with bust of Nefertiti.
- Pergamon Museum with Ishtar Gate — the whole Pergamonmuseum is closed from October 2023 until 2027.
- Pergamon Museum Panorama Exhibition with Asisi panoramic painting and Greek statues.
- Photography — Helmut Newton collection and historic photos.
Previous Temporary Exhibitions:
- 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.
- 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.
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, smaller museums, and the opening of the Humboldt Forum in December.