The Neue Pinakothek (New Art Museum) houses a collection of paintings and sculptures roughly from 1780 to 1910. The emphasis is on German and French artists of the 19th century.
The original Neue Pinakothek was opened in 1853 but was bombed out of existence during the Second World War. Its replacement only opened in 1981. It is a post-modernist style building with excellent lighting and very suitable for exhibiting art. Pick up a free museum guide or simply follow the numbered halls that lead visitors through the 8-shaped museum. Works are arranged more or less chronologically and according to styles and themes, spanning the periods from David and Goya to Munch and Klimt.
Joseph Karl Stieler may not be the most famous artist of the 19th century, but arguably more Germans would be familiar with his painting in Hall 4 than any other work in the museum. It is possibly the best-known painting of literary giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and was secured by the Wittelsbach-family in 1828. The painting shares the hall with two large paintings of the Arrival of King Otto of Greece in Nauplia (1835) by Peter von Hess. The Wittelsbachs ruled Bavaria for more than 7 centuries, but their brief foray into Greek royalty was less than successful, not least due to the mental instability of Otto II. He was considered unsuitable for the Bavarian crown when Mad King Ludwig was deposed, although, if memory serves me right, the Bavarians were quite happy to keep him in charge of Greece.
Although the museum’s collection of German art is impressive, it is still the French Impressionists that draw in the crowds. The collection is not particularly large but representative of the period with particularly excellent examples by Manet, Monet, Cezanne, and Degas. Three works by Vincent van Gogh are on display, including a Vase with Sunflowers (1888). (My wife once paid around $ 10 to see the Sunflowers in Tokyo, but I was content to see this sample for free.) The Impressionists came around 18 galleries into the museum, so Baby Becks may perhaps be forgiven for bringing shame onto the family by dozing off two galleries before the highlights.
The museum’s café is famous for its good food and pleasant setting, factors that no doubt contributed to our inability to find any open seats there. We had to settle for a pleasant café across the road, where service was slow but the portions big, tasty, and reasonably priced.
Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, closing at 8pm on Wednesday. Admission is €5, free on Sunday. A combination day ticket for all three Pinakotheken is €12.
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September 8, 2005
From journal A Stroll Around a Bavarian Gem
Mexico City, Mexico
January 21, 2005
From journal Munich – Art & BMW
July 21, 2004
According to the free map guide at the obtained at the entryway, the original Neue Pinakothek or "new picture gallery" was constructed between 1846-1853 by Frederick von Gartner. It was purposefully laid out parallel to the Alte Pinakothek and in a similar longitudinal plan. This gallery for the contemporary art of the time was so badly damaged in World War II that it was razed in l949.
The new house for contemporary art in Munich was not planned until 1969 by Alexander von Braca, who won the architectural competition for his elegant plans. The spectacular contemporary layout of today’s Neue Pinakothek provides a fresh contrast to the stern symmetry of the Alte Pinakothek, which lies directly across the green space bisected by Theresien Strasse. The pleasant green space is a mini-gallery in its own right as it is dotted with a dozen or so abstract contemporary and historic sculptures set amidst lush trees with welcoming shaded benches.
From an architect’s standpoint, I was wowed as I ascended the wide steps at the entrance of the Neue, where I met a solid glass wall accented by tall stone pillars. Inside the cool, dim interior vestibule, the information desk staffed with friendly staff can arrange a guided tour or provide a free brochure and audio guide (both available all the major languages) with your 3.50€ admission price.
To the left of Information, a glass-walled book and gift gallery boasted a very comprehensive art and architecture book collection (in several languages), reprints, souvenirs, postcards, trinkets, well-crafted reproduction statues, and such an impressive art-supply offering I still dream about it, wishing I had purchased more of the rare finds.
The free audio guide is a great guide if you have only a quick, cursory tour in mind. Since I saw that the architecture and art offerings promised to be numerous and rich, I opted to spend the day. As the guided tours were only on M-W-F (it was Sat.), I sprang for the slick, efficient-looking Prestel Museum Guide for 9€. This compact book was packed with details about Munich’s treasures for a self-guided leisurely stroll. I was pleasantly surprised to find that even the most discerning of art fanciers could find something here to see. The collections ranged from German Romanticism, Gründerzeit (Industrial Period Art), Barbizon School, to a large, notable French Impressionist assembly and a wide choice of International paintings and sculpture executed after the 1900s.
From journal A Bavarian smorgasbord of contrasts
June 30, 2002
From journal Munich, Bavaria
Williams Lake, British Columbia
September 10, 2000
From journal Five days in Munich (Munchen)