Traditional Artwork Shelved Away To Make Room For Modern Art

  • Introduction

The Gemäldegalerie is a 14 year-old museum in Berlin. The museum was especially crafted to house its collection of traditional artwork ranging from the 13th to the 19th centuries and including artists such as Caravaggio, Botticelli, Giotto, and Rembrandt. Even the temperature of the museum is set to keep the paintings in the best condition possible. It is the only museum in which the display of artwork is encyclopedic.

  • New Collection

However, the Gemäldegalerie plans to replace the 3000 works of art with a newly acquired private collection of 20th century art from Heiner Pietzsch. Pietzsch’s collection is worth 190 million and has artwork by artists such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Juan Miro, and Salvador Dali. Half of the current artwork housed at Gemäldegalerie will be moved to the Bode Museum in the next five to seven years and the remaining half will be kept in storage.

  • Reaction

Many people are outraged.  According to the Epoch Times Newspaper:

“An open letter to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation by the Association of Art Historians, with 4,500 signatures, reads: “These plans … rob one of the world’s finest and, despite its wartime losses, most comprehensive collections of Old Master paintings of its unique capacity … to present more than 500 years of European painting history in encyclopedic scope in works of the very highest quality.”

Another ongoing petition letter, initiated by Jeffrey Hamburger, professor of German art and culture, Harvard University, has been signed by 11,185 members of the art world. Hamburger believes the art works have become pawns in a political chess game.” This petition also includes the signature of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia.

James Gurney, beloved artist and author of the Dinotopia books, told the Epoch Times, “Art museums have an important responsibility to keep a broad range of historical artwork available on view for the benefit of scholars, art students, and the public.”

According to the Art Newspaper, Conservators in Germany also oppose: “The move, which was announced at the beginning of July, poses a ‘significant conservation risk’, said a statement released by the Bonn-based Verband der Restauratoren (Association of Restorers) on 19 July. The association, which has around 2,500 members, argues that the Pietzsch collection should move into the Gemäldegalerie only when a suitable location has been found to accommodate the Old Masters.”

The Renaissance Society of America is linking to the online petition to stop the movement of the Gemäldegalerie current collection.

I have to ask: What is your reaction?

Thank you for reading,


  • Sources

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